Series: The Dysasters #1
Published by Pan Australia on February 26, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
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P. C. and Kristin Cast, the #1 New York Times bestselling authors of the House of Night phenomenon, return to the scene with The Dysasters - the first action-packed novel in a new paranormal fantasy series.
Adoptive daughter of a gifted scientist, Foster Stewart doesn't live a 'normal' life, (not that she'd want to). But controlling cloud formations and seeing airwaves aren't things most eighteen-year-olds can do.
Small town star quarterback and quintessential dreamy boy next door, Tate "Nighthawk" Taylor has never thought about his "extra" abilities. Sure, his night vision comes in handy during games, but who wouldn't want that extra edge?
From the moment Foster and Tate collide, their worlds spiral and a deadly tornado forces them to work together, fully awakening their not-so-natural ability - the power to control air.
As they each deal with the tragic loss of loved ones, they're caught by another devastating discovery - they are the first in a group of teens genetically manipulated before birth to bond with the elements, and worse... they're being hunted.
Now, Foster and Tate must fight to control their abilities as they learn of their past, how they came to be, who's following them, and what tomorrow will bring...
I’m always a sucker for stories about people with special abilities, especially when it comes to elemental powers. Because who doesn’t love a good dose of Xmen?
The Dysasters follows a group of teenagers who find out they have elemental powers and learn how they can control them. We follow two characters, Tate and Foster in their search for other teenagers like themselves. As the book begins, we find out about both of their abilities – Tate has night vision and can control hurricanes, while Foster has an influencing ability that she calls her “jedi mind trick” and she can see airwaves.
Foster soon loses her adoptive mother Cora to a massive hurricane, and Cora tells her about a quartet who are after her and Tate. She tells her to escape to safety, and that her real Father is behind all of this. So the two need to navigate their way through the American countryside as they get to know one another and navigate their strange powers. These two aren’t too happy to have ended up with one another and there’s a lot of annoying bickering that will happen in their journey.
Cheesy characters, predictable plot
When we first meet Tate, he comes across as your typical high school jock and Foster definitely wasn’t impressed. There’s a certain amount of cheese to his character, and attempts are gradually made to add depth to his character later on, such as his connection with his grandpa (who he calls G-pa). The reader is also subjected to a long drawn out scene where he regurgitates his favourite YA and classical novels to appeal to the reader, but I just found it to be forced.
Foster herself had a little bit more depth to her, as she dealt with her loss of Cora, and recalled a lot of moments with her mother during the journey. But as Foster and Tate’s bickering gave way to romance, it just becomes a cheesy kissing fest that I wasn’t here for.
We do get alternating perspectives between the villains in the book, Eve and her group of genetically engineered brothers who also have elemental powers. They felt rather one-dimensional and I did not appreciate the dog burning scene towards the end of the book (even though the dog apparently wasn’t hurt).
The plot of the book does end up to be quite predictable as well – I feel like this is a book that I’ve read before in many different iterations. The ending of the book felt super cheesy and there was some tired slang that was used. Also the inclusion of old timey music just dated the book even more, even though Foster says it’s the music her mother listens to.
There is the inclusion of a transgender character, who is one of the teenagers with special abilities in the book. I liked Charlotte’s confidence and southern attitude, but sadly I found that the treatment of her character to be problematic and harmful.
The few scenes that she is in, she is subjected to nasty comments and attitudes from others because of her identity. One scene will have her dealing with a cruel petrol station attendant who treats her badly upon viewing her name from birth. He makes some nasty sexual comments about her which could be triggering to some. Another scene will have Charlotte dealing with her southern mother who does not acknowledge her transition. While Charlotte obviously “sticks it” to her mother, I just found the manner in which these scenes were handled to be kind of harmful.
Having a transgender character that is repeatedly subjected to verbal abuse from others simply for their identity can be harmful, as it just further illustrates the hurt and disrespect that transgendered people receive in real life. Seeing it reduced to a harmful stereotype without reflecting the nuances and sensitivities that affect them was kind of problematic. These stories can better be told by #ownvoices authors who can successfully navigate the sensitivities in more respectful manner.
Was there anything I enjoyed?
The Dysasters was easy to read and get into, and I liked the illustrations added in the book. I did enjoy the perspective of Eve and her brothers, and how there was some questions of morality by one of her brothers. Although there were quite a lot of character point of views, I was never confused with them.
Overall, the writing, characters and the plot of The Dysasters feels incredibly predictable and cheesy. Although there were some fun scenes, such as when Foster plays air music, I just didn’t find that it added much to the genre at all and it regurgitates quite a lot of tropes that have been done before. Sadly, I found it to be dated, and the treatment towards the transgender character to be problematic.
Rating: 1 out of 5
Trigger warnings: death of a relative, transphobic comments from others, animal cruelty
The Dysasters is available from Australian bookstores for RRP$18.99 or from The Book Depository.
Thank you to Pan Macmillan Australia for sending me a review copy!