Friday, September 19, 2014

Early Review: Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Chasing Power
by Sarah Beth Durst
Read: August 26 - 29, 2014
Published: October 14, 2014 by Bloomsbury
Source: NetGalley (Thank you, Bloomsbury)
Category: YA, mind powers, adventure, history, travel

Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository 

Book Description: Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla's life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.


I thought the description of Chasing Power sounded like so much fun, when I first read it. Anything about traveling the world always gets my attention, and adding supernatural abilities to the mix, seemed like a great idea to me. In fact, after reading this book, I've decided that if I could have one superpower it would be the ability to teleport anywhere. I grew quite envious of Daniel's talents. However, even after reading the book, I'm still not sure the meaning of the cover or why the image was chosen. Instead, I wish the cover had highlighted the adventure aspects of this story. I'm also sad to say that I have very mixed feelings about the story itself. 

To be honest, it took me about 35% into the book to connect with it enough to keep reading. I'm not even sure why that was. Part of it was lack of connection to the characters, especially the narrator Kayla. It didn't help that the book was written in 3rd person. I don't usually mind that choice for point of view. But I think first person POV would have worked better for this particular story. 

A few other thoughts about Chasing Power:

1) I loved the adventure and travel, especially all the archaeological/historical sites. I saw a review that mentioned this having an Indiana Jones feel in places, and I can definitely see that. 

2) These characters are upfront with each other about their emotions and personal angst. They are dealing with an extremely stressful situation, but they continue to communicate and express when they are upset about something. I was thankful that this didn't dissolve into a drama fest, which was important because the story is fairly fast paced and there wasn't really time for that. The energy between Kayla, Daniel and Serena was great, I just wish I had felt it more. 

3) For some reason this just wasn't as swoony as I'd hoped, even though the romance is paced nicely. Kayla and Daniel are forced to work together very quickly, but they don't have an immediate love connection. It takes time for them to trust each other and for their mutual attraction to grow. All of this is usually a win for me, as well as the fact that I was thankful that there are absolutely no love triangles. But I didn't feel any overly strong emotion about the romance, likely due to my lack of connection with Kayla.

4) As best friends go, Serena is a good one, and I'm always up for a high energy best friend. But I found her banter with Kayla to be more annoying than charming. I didn't feel invested in her part of the story. I did like, however, that each of the the characters' relationship to her/his parents played a big role in the story, and that these characters truly loved their parents while also acknowledging their faults. 

5) Through most of the book I struggled with lack of context or origin for these supernatural abilities. When a book introduces magical powers, I have trouble when I don't understand where they came from or how they fit into the rest of the world. By the end of Chasing Power, explanation is given about why these characters have their powers, and it helped a lot. I was actually surprised - in a good way - by the way the plot came together. I also found myself surprised by several elements, and unsure along with Kayla, about who she should be trusting. I like that this story kept me guessing, but I think I would have connected to the book earlier if I'd gotten more context sooner. 

My final verdict is that I think this book would have worked better for me as a movie. I wish I could have seen the places Kayla and Daniel travel on screen, and experienced the action live. Plus if this were a movie, I'd spend less time thinking of the lack of context or origin for their powers, since I think a lot more about background elements when I'm reading a story. Basically, I think I just need to go and watch Indiana Jones now. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone? A few loose ends, but overall a solid ending. 


  1. LOL -- It's hard to find YA books about super powers that are original and engaging. There are just SO many out there! Glad this one kept you entertained, even if it didn't blow your socks off.

  2. Yay for no insta-love or triangles. However, that lack of a connection with the MC definitely hurts the swoon-factor of the romance. I wonder if this was written as a screenplay originally and adopted into book form? (Could be a reason for the "better as a movie" feel. Just throwin' it out there...)

  3. Hmmmmmmm. To read or not to read? Happy to hear there are no love triangles, but now I'm not so sure if this is a book I should invest my time in. :/ I'm kind of getting tired of the superheroes in YA, anyway. Will have to think on this one!

  4. I liked this, but my biggest complaint was what you mentioned in #5. It seemed like it was just a normal world and then a few people have these powers and it just bugged me the whole time. Plus the whole evil dad thing, with again, no explanation given (or even questioned) until so late. It all ended up coming together, but it was in the back of my mind the whole time that I didn't understand this world and where the superpowers came from. Other than that, I enjoyed it. ~Pam

  5. Hugs. <3 I'm sorry you had issues with this book, Lauren :\ It is never fun when you don't love a book. I do like this cover :D but don't think the book is for me, hih. Not swooning for the romance is a big turn-off :( I love good romances. I need good romances. So yeah. I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy this book more. Thank you for being awesome and being honest, though. <3 :)

  6. I like the minimalist cover, but I agree; it doesn't fit the book at all. I just finished reading this last week and I felt that same disconnect with the characters and most of the story. And I didn't love the writing either, which surprised me because that was such a strong point in the two other Durst books I've read. I think you're right, though: it would have played much better as a movie. Great review!


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