The short version of this review would go something like this:
Such a fabulous premise wasted on clichéd writing, a daft story and stupid insta-love romance.
Here’s the long version:
Mia is addicted to lightning. She’s survived countless strikes, her entire body (apart from her face, obviously) is covered in veiny scars and despite the danger and the fact that she has (unintentionally) hurt people because of it, she still craves lightning more than anything. Living in LA – a place where lightning rarely strikes – was supposed to cull her addiction but wouldn’t you know, not only a lightning has caused a 8.6 magnitude earthquake that has DEVASTATED the city but prophecies – from religious cults, tarot cards and the Book of Revelations – predict that MOARS lightning are coming. And they will precede the end of the WORLD. Or at the very least the end of Los Angeles. And Mia and her lightning addiction, as per the prophecies, will be at the centre of it which make her a very sought after person by the aforementioned cults.
There are good things about Struck. The premise of someone being addicted to lightning is cool in itself and strikingly visual – not only when lightning strikes Mia but also in terms of the effects it has on her: her veiny scars, loss of hair, her insomnia. I also thought that the description of a devastated, post-earthquake Los Angeles – with the widespread destruction, poverty and social divide that ensued – to be, if not exactly original, at least gripping. I am not certain if this is a parallel world to ours or if this LA is a futurist one but there are hints that other parts of the world and of the USA are in dire straits as well which presumably explains how the people of LA are isolated and left to fend for themselves. I also liked the fact that Mia would do anything to help her family to survive especially her PTSD-suffering mother (after being under rubble for three days after the earthquake). In terms of character, Mia’s mother is possibly the better developed one with her trauma and the need to find answers and hope leading her to join a religious cult.
Those good things – the cool Sci Fi premise, the potential of a pre-apocalyptic world and its social problems that will in itself help the actual apocalypse to take place – are however, squandered away by focusing the story on the warring cults. One of the Cults is called the Seekers and they think Mia will be the key to STOP the apocalypse as per the Book of Revelations and the visions and Tarot readings of their gipsy ancestors. They are not supposed to be religious but they talk about and mention the Bible so…yeah, I don’t know how that mix works either. The other is called the Followers who well, follow a guy who calls himself simply Prophet and it’s a religious cult of brainwashed people who believe that the apocalypse is near and we all need to repent. To this faction, Mia is the key to BRING on the apocalypse. And everybody can do stuff with or via lightning.
There is a certain immediacy and localised aspect to this story that just didn’t work. If the whole world is going through shit, why is this plot so concentrated in LA? WHY LA as the apocalyptic centre of the world? Is it only because Mia is there? WHY is she so important? Is it only because of how she can take on more lightning than anybody else? BUT WHY? Why is lightning so important to this story? I never bought the premise or understood it beyond: “that’s how it is written in the book so suck it up”. Not to mention that the story is simply not developed enough for me to believe that LA is completely cut off from the world just like that. Everything is just so vague and then we have this entire build up to the end of the world – the whole book takes place within the 3 days preceding it – and then the story is wrapped up easily and inconsequently within a couple of pages.
But to be honest this is only the beginning of my problems with the book:
1) Although I appreciated how it is shown that a charismatic leader that speaks to the fear and hopelessness inside people and can give them a measure of comfort and control at a time of need, this complexity is completely and utterly undermined by the fact that the leader of said cult has in fact, actual brainwashing powers (brought to you by lightning. No, don’t ask. I don’t know either).
2) The book opens with someone trying to kill our heroine. Which she conveniently forgets soon after by thinking it is only a dream. Of course, this is only because the guy who tried to kill her turns out to be the Romantic Interest who looks like a “European underwear model” with “tortured blue eyes”. Despite the fact that he has indeed been following her, and tried to KILL HER, she doesn’t think he could be a stalker because and I quote:
"A guy like Jeremy didn’t need to stalk."
Take note people: apparently only bad-looking guys could possibly be stalkers.
3) Their relationship has no development whatsoever. They fall for each other basically instantly, she forgets he tried to kill her very easily because he looks good and I quote:
"I let my eyes linger on Jeremy, studying him, trying to decide if I could see past the knife incident to trust him. But the only thing I could think about when I stared at him was how I wanted to keep staring, never take my eyes away."
Someone tries to kill you and that is an incident? Ok then.
But of course, their relationship wouldn’t be complete without SOME angst. Which comes from Jeremy having visions of the future. The visions happened every time he touched Mia and when that happens she passes out. BUT that ONLY happens if he touches her with his hands so they can do everything as long as he doesn’t touch her with his hands and somehow this is still an impediment because he can’t control himself, therefore a reason for EXTRA angst and my brain went into overdrive with GLOVES!!!!!!!!!!! HOW ABOUT GLOVES, IF IT IS ONLY THE HANDS HOW ABOUT GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVES!!!!
Ahem. Not to mention the fact that Jeremy KNEW what was happening, knew loads of secrets and still he did not tell Mia (for her protection) even though they only had THREE DAYS to stop the end of the world. Oh Lord of the Books, please save me from contrived conflict.
4) The pseudo-science behind the causes of the earthquake:
"There was a geological survey going on at the time—which, ironically, had something to do with earthquakes—and a crew had opened up a hole in the ground that went way down into the earth, supposedly for miles, all the way to the Puente Hills Fault that runs right beneath downtown. Lightning struck straight into the hole, and immediately afterward there was an 8.6 magnitude earthquake that lasted over three minutes. The top seismologists in the world had formulated a theory that, hypothetically, the friction along the Puente Hills fault line might have acted like a beacon for lightning. When the fault was struck, it increased the pressure on the fault exponentially, setting off the earthquake like a nuke buried miles underground."
Let me get this straight: there is an ACTUAL FAULT beneath LA that is due to cause a massive earthquake soon and yet this story needed lightning to set it off?
Not to mention: lightning causing earthquakes? Hummm, how about NO?
Sorry, but the whole thing is just daft.
Oh well: NEXT.