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Tunnel Vision is a better-than-average YA novel, though there are a few elements that could be better and author Susan Adrian very nearly steps into a Fatal Flaw trap at the end.
The plot is okay, though similar to other stories that have appeared in both sci-fi and fantasy. A teenager who has a secret power is discovered and now that the secret is known, has to attempt to keep himself and his loved ones safe. Thankfully, Ms. Adrian doesn’t employ some of the clichés that these other books use, such as insisting on filtering the story through a secondary love plot that seems to take over the story. Yes, Jake Lukin is an ordinary teenager who does experience angst over a girl, but their relationship is a minor element through most of the book.
The use of first-person present tense, clumsy in the hands of many, comes off fairly smoothly and adds a measure of immediacy and danger to the writing. We also receive up-to-the-second evaluations of the action from Jake, and he provides the motives of the other characters. These elements were the five-star items of the book.
The ending felt rushed, and there was an error that extended from a previous chapter into the final pages. While it wasn’t enough to ruin the story I questioned why the author, who had presented a well-written story up to that point, would allow this to slip through. The strength of the book up to that point will probably convince me to buy the second book in this series. I am not normally a reader of YA and was happy this was better than what usually finds its way into my reading pile. Recommended. Four stars.
I really enjoyed the narrator Jake, especially. He starts off as a normal high school kid with regular concerns. His ability is just a cool talent he has. But when the government finds out what Jake can do, his ability becomes Very Important and Jake gets thrown into a world that he doesn't understand at all. He's quite naive at first and in way over his head. But one of my favorite parts of this story is seeing Jake grow up through it all. Although it takes him some time - and me some frustration - Jake ends up being highly adaptable and resourceful. He learns to navigate some very sticky situations and becomes quite badass by the end. But he's still relatable and likable through the entire story. Author Susan Adrian did a great job capturing Jake's voice, showing his character growth and making me care for him throughout the book.
This book also has some great secondary characters, and I loved Jake's sister Myka and his grandfather Dedushka the most. It seemed like Dedushka, was going to be more of a comic relief character, but he added a lot of depth and perspective to this story. Although the character who surprised me the most was Eric. I like that his story arc added complexity to the overall book, especially in terms of the uneasy situation Jake gets himself into. To that end, I appreciated that we were able to see both the benefit and danger of an ability like Jake's, and why people would want so much to be able to use it. But it makes Jake so incredibly valuable and coveted that it completely alters his life too.
We do eventually get some answers about the origins of Jake's tunneling ability, which is pretty cool and also freaky. I was worried it would be a random phenomenon at first, and I don't really like supernatural abilities that have no context, but Jake's ability to tunnel ends up having an intriguing background. If this story continues into a series, I'd love to find out more about this element.
For romance fans, this book contains a very mild love story, which was sweet, although it was not central to the plot. It is present in the beginning and then picks up again later, but sort of abruptly. I'm always a fan of the inclusion a love story element, but I do wish we'd gotten to know Rachel better. However, I did really like what we saw of her. Especially that we were able to see reasons why Rachel and Jake are a good fit, in that they compliment and work together well.
I do very much home we will see another book about Jake to come! There's a lot left of this world that I'd like to explore. But I enjoyed this as a standalone if it stays that way.
Love Triangle Factor: None Cliffhanger scale: low but great potential for more story.
I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller. In the story, a teen (Jake) is recruited by a top-secret government agency due to his ability to "tunnel"--that is, to pry into the minds of distant people when he comes into contact with objects they've touched. The applications for his talents are obvious: he can help track down kidnapping victims, identify and locate terrorists, etc. But when the government agency plants agents in his home and in his school for his "protection," Jake's life turns upside down; it becomes increasingly hard for him to lead a normal life, not to mention to hide what's going on from his mother, younger sister, and romantic interest. One of the things I really liked about the book was that even though it has a science fiction premise, author Adrian handles her narrator's crisis very realistically: Jake's a good kid who wants to use his talents to help people, but he's having huge difficulty dealing with the pressure of the situation. I also liked the aura of suspicion Adrian casts over the whole story: like the narrator, the reader never knew who to trust. (Is Jake's girlfriend in on it? His possibly delusional grandfather? His best friend?) Finally, though this is a small thing, I loved the use of popular song titles for the chapter titles. All in all, this is a fun, creative debut!
This book grabbed me from page one - and then it just kept getting better and better. At several points I was thinking I had the book figured out, knew more or less where it was going - and then Adrian pulled the rug out from under the reader in the best possible ways, with twists and surprises that feel utterly inevitable in retrospect, rather than just being shocking for the sake of it. This is a fast-paced sci-fi thriller that also had loads of heart and humor and romance and great family relationships, especially a sibling relationship that was my favorite part of the book. Especially recommended for fans of Veronica Mars or Chuck.