Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
Doubleday Books, Random House, 2012. ISBN: 9780857530950.
(Age: Teens) Recommended. While Struck is a typical paranormal romance, sticking to the familiar tropes and style, there is enough originality to make it worth a read. The main character, Mia, is addicted to being struck by lightning, so her mother moves the family to California where it rarely storms.
Rather than becoming a book about a girl hiding her powers, or about falling in confusing love with two different boys, Struck evolves into a post-disaster novel. The biggest earthquake ever throws Los Angeles into chaos. To access food, Mia and her brother, Parker, must attend school. A religious cult leader who foresaw the earthquake offers salvation for those who choose his path. Mia's mother, suffering extreme PSTD, is at the mercy of his charisma, and Mia is desperate to keep her family together.
At this point, the novel turns back down the usual paranormal path: Mia has something special, and two feuding groups vie for her loyalty. The mysterious Jeremy offers a solution, but he speaks in half-sentences and half-truths; he has his own secrets.
Apart from chasing down kids to see if they also have the lightning 'spark', and from some heavy handed violence between feuding groups, this is generally an interior monologue. We follow Mia's thoughts as she tries to devise ways to survive, and to determine the real intent of Jeremy. Bosworth uses the Bible, tarot cards, and psychic phenomena to ground the story and it works to some extent. Mia's power is the answer to many of the questions raised, and her journey to discover her ability is a metaphor for growing up and for struggling with identity. Best of all I don't believe this is a series; it concludes with a final tender moment.
By discussing the role of religion and evangelical cults, Struck offers variety to lovers of paranormal romance. Perhaps the author tries to develop too many sub-plots (I didn't even touch on the illegal drug trade or the shifty underground party called The Rove), but overall this book delivers.