There’s nothing more frustrating as a reader than really, really wanting to love a book — and not quite being able to. I loved the description of Farsighted by Emlyn Chand, even though paranormal isn’t my usual fare. The concept is great, a blind teen with second sight who must try and prevent the death of a friend he foresees. And Chand shows some real potential with this debut outing. But in the end, the pieces don’t quite work together well enough.
Chand has created a likable narrator/protagonist in Alex, and experiencing everything as he does — without visual cues — makes for an engaging read. To uphold that mindset throughout an entire book takes some skill, and Chand can justly be proud of her work in this area. It also means that, like Alex, we aren’t always clear at first whether something is a vision or reality.
Unfortunately, that also is one place the book falters. The first few times, when confusion still is a factor, the visions aren’t presented any differently in the text than reality. That allows us to experience Alex’s confusion along with him, which is a plus. However, the visions get longer and the lack of a visual cue for visions vs. reality becomes more jarring.
The other confusing point is the similarity between the names of two characters, both girls Alex is friends with and, at times, attracted to. Having to mentally track Simmi and Shapri often pulled me out of the narrative.
Both of these highlight what for me was the overall flaw in what had potential to be a really fabulous debut: Farsighted needed a good developmental editor. Don’t mistake what I’m saying – the prose was clean — free of typos, grammatical mistakes and other things that a poorly copy-edited book would have. Chand didn’t skimp there. And for many readers, that’s probably enough that they’ll enjoy it.
However, between technical issues like the names and larger issues of content, there are several places a good developmental editor could have helped Chand reach the potential this debut shows. The role played by Alex’s father never really had enough internal consistency for me to buy it. He swung from being somebody not to trust to somebody we should trust in a way that never quite felt authentic. In the same way, Alex seemed, despite token resistance, to accept this new logic for his father’s behavior too easily. For somebody who had always felt his father resented or hated him to switch to trusting him as quickly as he did strained credulity. Likewise, when the guys finally went to Alex’s mom, her reaction seemed out of character with what we had seen to that point. The ending also felt anticlimactic, and I never really felt like the final confrontation was as serious a threat as it was built up to be.
Having said all that, it’s not a bad book. I’m always picky on characterization and internal consistency, probably more so than the average reader. The teen characters have enough personality and quirkiness that I want to learn more about what happens to them after this incident, and I’ll buy Chand’s next book to learn that. If she can better flesh out the adults in Grandon and resolve the motivation holes, it will go a long way to lifting her work to the next level.
Even if paranormal isn’t your cup of tea, this is worth a try because it’s such a change from sparkly vampires, zombies and werewolves. It’s the type of book I’d suggest for a snow day when you can curl up and enjoy some unexpected vacation reading.
I purchased my copy of this book for review.