Book Review: Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

FarsightedFarsighted by Emlyn Chand is an intriguing blend of YA story elements—part paranormal romance, part mystery, part contemporary hard-luck coming-of-age. I know it’s hard to imagine that a book that includes all that could still be tightly woven and thematically consistent, but Emlyn has pulled it off. Each scene is lean and suspenseful, and momentum is never sacrificed, even when plot twists are explained.

Another unique slant is that the protagonist is blind, and the story is defined by that blindness. His disability supercharges his other senses (a key point in the premise, but we’ll get to that), so much of the narrative emphasizes descriptions of smell, sound, touch, and even taste, all of which are richly written and heighten the reader’s connection to the story.

But he still can’t see, which means we as readers can’t see, and that created (for me, at least) two fascinating conditions that permeate the entire book.

The first is a mild kind of claustrophobia I felt as I read, as if I had actually lost my own ability to see. I didn’t notice it for a while, but about the fourth chapter in, I started to empathize directly with the protagonist’s frustration at continually being at a disadvantage—even in small ways, like having to rely on others for writing out his homework assignments. That frustration alone raised the stakes for me, because not only does our intrepid hero have to take on a homicidal maniac to save the world, but he has to do it blind.

The second condition is how his blindness affects the mystery element of the story. Part of what I love about this story is the irony that the blind kid is the one with the gift of prophecy, and that his gift doesn’t allow him to “see”—he can only experience his visions through his other senses, which makes it that much harder to unravel the mystery. False assumptions our hero makes lead him down the wrong roads, and when explanations are provided, he has a difficult time believing them. But this is all reasonable given the fact that his lack of sight makes him an easy target to lie to in some ways. He’s dependent on people describing things to him, and doing so truthfully, in order to make sense of what his other senses are taking in.

Premise

Alex is the only blind kid in his small-town high school. He gets picked on by the other kids, but that’s cake compared to having to deal with his newfound ability to see the future. Especially since the future keeps showing him the death of his new friend Simmi, the girl he’s falling in love with. When a mysterious palm reader moves to town with her daughter, she offers to help him take control of his strange gift and use it to prevent the horrible futures he keeps seeing. But will he be able to harness his power before he loses Simmi forever?

Characters

Alex is a complex character. He has an equal capacity for selflessness and cruelty. It makes him a little unlikable at times, but it also keeps us guessing—which side will he choose, good or evil? Of all the characters I’ve read over the years who are supposed to be riding the line, he’s the most convincing to me. He can be petty, selfish, and outright mean. But he also suffers through all the frustration of being blind without complaint, without feeling sorry for himself, and without worrying that he won’t be able to do something because of his blindness. It’s part of him, but it doesn’t really hold him back. Also, his selfless acts of love toward his mother showcase the sweet and empathetic side to his character, which keeps the reader rooting for him. I think the author wants us guessing which way he’ll fall, and though I think he’ll side with good in the end, I couldn’t say I’m 100% sure about that, and I think that shows how strong the writing is.

Simmi is the new girl, outcast like Alex, whom Alex inevitably starts to fall for. She’s beautiful in Alex’s mind, though he can’t see her, per se. (And I’d love to ask the author if she’s beautiful in her mind as well, or if she even knows what Simmi looks like any more than Alex does.) Simmi is truly good, and it’s easy to see why Alex would be interested in her. She’s also interesting and a strong character in her own right.

Shapri is the palm reader’s daughter. She sort of horns in on Alex and Simmi’s growing bond. Alex resents her, at least at first, and it’s his relationship with her that shows the more selfish sides of his character. She’s an interesting foil for Simmi, because she’s completely different. In some ways, Simmi and Shapri reflect both sides of Alex’s personality.

Miss Teak is the palm reader and Alex’s mentor. He distrusts her through most of the book, so it’s hard for us as readers to get too much revelatory information from her, since Alex won’t ask or won’t believe her. His relationship with her is also rocky, which at times leaves him cut off from support, adding to the feeling of claustrophobia I mentioned earlier.

Alex’s dad, though not always present, is a major influence on Alex. I can’t really say too much more about him without giving things away, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Dax is the ostensible protagonist, though we don’t know much about him until the very end. Again, I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll let you form your own opinions about him.

Plot/structure

This story feels very much like a set-up book for a series in that we don’t even officially meet the antagonist (in real life as opposed to in Alex’s visions) until the end of the book. That being said, it doesn’t lack for a sense of foreboding and mystery, or for action, actually, since the visions keep us guessing and the interpersonal relationships add drama and tension.

Writing

The writing is well paced and consistent. There were very few typos/errors in the ARC, and now there are even fewer (if any) in the official edition (which is a huge plus in my opinion).

The best aspect of the writing style, though, is the structure. The author has laid out the story along the trajectory of the Norse rune alphabet. Each chapter begins with a rune that applies to the main action of the chapter. Runes are both an alphabet and a method for scrying the future, much like Tarot cards. The meaning of the runes run along the same course as the mythic hero’s journey, so they set up a nice, natural backbone for a story.

This book is for you if…

You like your paranormal a little mysterious, your romance a little temperamental, your contemporary a little sharp. Oh, and if you like your teenagers more true to life.

This book is not for you if…

You’re looking for a more traditional hero. Alex can be difficult in his struggle against his own inner darkness, so if you’re looking for Sir Galahad the Pure, look elsewhere.

Buy it, borrow it, or bypass it

Buy it. It’s a great, enjoyable read.

BLOG TOUR NOTES

THE BOOK:  Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).

THE CASH PRIZES:  Guess what? You could win a $100 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $100 too! Please help by voting for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll. To cast your vote, visit the official Farsighted blog tour page and scroll all the way to the bottom. The name of my blog is Sticking to the Story. Thank you for your help with that!

THE GIVEAWAYS:  Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.

THE AUTHOR:  Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

MORE FUN: There’s more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer and take the quiz to find out which character is most like you!

About Mary Elizabeth Summer

Mary Elizabeth Summer is an instructional designer, a mom, a champion of the serial comma, and a pie junkie. Oh, and she sometimes writes books about teenage delinquents saving the day. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her daughter, her partner, her two neurotic dogs, and her precious prince--er, cat.
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25 Responses to Book Review: Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

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