Despite the Authors bad habit of mixing her tense’s and the bad guy’s names being as predictable as the sun rising in the morning (Nyx and Damien, really?) I quite enjoyed myself reading Gifted.
Sure it has faults, which I will delve further into later because one of them activated my Rage Mode, but none of them take away from the fact that George is a really solid writer and Ava, our protagonist, is the first character I’ve read in ages who was brilliant yet flawed, and I actually believed in her. Any recurring reader of my reviews will know that realistic character development will usually get a gold star from me, Ava really delivers, she’s a giant push over and would rather make nice and smooth a situation out than express herself. Of course, she has good qualities, she’s level-headed and smart and a good friend but the flaws were original and gave Ava an extra flavour that made her not only likable but memorable.
This does lead me to a complaint I have, part of the blurb for Gifted, and quite a few words in the book itself make a point of illustrating how normal Ava is, it’s mentioned that she’s a size 14ish, brown hair, brown eyes. All good, I love seeing characters who aren’t size 6 white people with to-die-for hair and “sapphire” eyes, who only cry in an attractive eye watering and non-snotty way (you know the one’s I mean). But all the main support friends are still high flying hugely attractive late teens early twenty-somethings, so this ‘normal adventure for normal people’ advert Gifted seems to be pushing is not so much a step as a shuffle in that direction.
Despite appearances the supports are still written well, they manage to stand up and not look flat next to Ava’s sublimely written character at the very least. You can feel a ‘but’ coming? Yeah, Ava’s love interest can go suck on a Bratwurst quite frankly. He’s just a douche, he talks to her like he’s trying to patronize a three-year-old, I can’t name a single good quality of his and to top it all off he does something really horrible that the book tries to excuse with a good quality but in my eyes it only made him look worse. I don’t want to spoil, but if you read this book then you’ll know what I mean when you get there.
But (again), the romance is not the be all and end all of Ava’s life, it just rear’s it’s ugly head once in a while. This is another massive point in Gifted’s favour, Ava goes through so many changes in the book and she spends most of the time thinking about them, rather than pining after Captain Bratwurst, like what an actual human being might do. It was nice, depressing that it was refreshing, but that’s another conversation.
So what about the parts of Gifted that aren’t character related. Well, there’s a point that I usually hate in books that really worked in its favour. Gifted is slow, I mean really really slow, nothing plot related (after the initial intrigue) happens till about ¾ of the way through. But I was okay with that because I really enjoyed the bits about Ava adjusting to her new life and abilities and her perspective on a variety of normal situations. I was not so much inspired by what is evidently the overarching plot, it was fine, not particularly original, but fine. Yet I resented it because I wanted Ava to go back to figuring out these new changes and friends in her life. I didn’t care about this vaguely explained evil. To be honest I think I would have liked the book more if there was no big bad and the story was just about the difficulties Ava faces as her life undergoes a massive upheaval in every sense of the word.
It’s the first book in the series though so the big question is ‘Will I be buying number two?’ I don’t know, I would definitely recommend Gifted because I really did enjoy Ava. However, this big evil plot seems to be coming to fruition and I cared next to nothing for it, and I have a feeling the follow-up is going to be more about that now we’ve had the (very enjoyable) set up.