Review: Solstice High by Ardash Vartparonian

Solstice HighSolstice High
written by Ardash Vartparonian
published by Strategic Book Group

find it here: Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Why did I pick this book: I participated in the blog tour hosted by Premier Virtual Author Book Tours(I received a copy of this book for review purposes.)

Did I enjoy this book:
I’m ambivalent.

The plot is sort of fun – think X-men + Twilight: superpowers with an angsty high school twist. I read to the end because I was invested enough to need to know the outcome, but I felt it could have been written much more succinctly (I kept checking to see how many pages I had left to read).  I think the biggest issue I had was with point of view.  It’s difficult to master writing a novel in a voice that’s not your own, and Vartparonian had not one but four different narrators.  Though the main characters took turns narrating by chapter, I found myself needing several paragraphs to figure out who was speaking, and ended up re-reading the beginnings of several chapters.

Further, although each character had unique quirks, none of them were different enough from the author’s overall style to adequately distinguish them.  I’m impressed with Vartparonian’s ambitious attempt at a multi-narrated plot, but I think this book would benefit from a single, omniscient narrator.  I enjoyed hearing each teen’s thoughts, I really did, but every time the “queen of the school,”  whose every other word was “like” mentioned the “moquette” floors I wanted to take a red pen to the manuscript.

I’m not saying Vartparonian doesn’t have talent – the talent is obvious.  I’m not saying I didn’t like the imagery (though I’m fairly certain that even gay, artsy, teenage boys don’t say they’re going to “phone” their friends).  I’m saying that despite the well thought-out characterization and the interesting plot, the narration didn’t ring true.  Teenagers just don’t say things like, “I was stunned, feeling like an anachronistic character recently arrived at some ancient forest revelry.”  A different point of view would make all the difference.

So.  Here’s the break down:  Evil Genius Bad Guy creates gas that causes Normal Folk to turn Supe.  Some curious high schoolers get gas-blasted too soon, get some cool powers, and spend the rest of the book trying to cope with said newfound powers while trying to stop Evil Genius Bad Guy from mind-controlling the rest of the school.  Add some teenage angst-ridden love stories, a few decidedly post-high school themes (drinking, sex, and child molestation, to name a few), and you’ve got Solstice High.


Would I recommend it: As a teen novel, absolutely not.  There are too many adult themes.  If I had a teenager, there’s no way I’d allow him or her to read a book in which teens are regularly getting drunk and having sex.  Although these things certainly happen in high schools, I’ll not condone them by recommending this book to a teen audience.

As an adult novel, I’d say if Vartparonian revamped the text by simplifying to a single narrator, my sci-fi friends would probably enjoy it.  As is, I think they’d have the same troubles I do.

Will I read it again: Nope.
About the book:
Matt, Rochelle, Daphne and Jonas are four students starting their senior year of high school, but suffer a freak-accident the very first day and start to realize that they are developing superhuman abilities. They quickly realize that the school principal, Mr. Devlin, has in fact more than just education on his agenda, and is using the school for his own purposes.

Not only must the four friends try to figure out what Devlin’s plans are, but when he will strike, and seeing as how they cannot turn to grown-ups for help without exposing themselves, must themselves grow-up in order to stop him. As well as learning to cope with these developing powers, the four teenagers must deal with the day-to-day muddles of being a teenager, such as volatile emotions, infatuations and family issues.

Happy reading wherever you are and whenever you get a free chance!!!


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