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Friday, September 16, 2011

REVIEW AND INTERVIEW: SUSPENSE BY JASON LETTS


Title: Suspense                Series: The Spencer Nye Trilogy (book 1)
Author: Jason Letts       Pub. Date: Sept. 2011
Format: Kindle ebook    Source: from author for review
Suspense
Spencer Nye can’t control the rage bubbling under her skin over the world around her. The trouble is, by the year 2102, the world has solved most of its great problems. Without hunger, war, greed, or even money, people obsess over the glamour of the Culture Industry and its mega-celebrity Idols, who vie for followers over the social networks of Connect.


But Spencer discovers there is plenty to fix within the Idols’ competition for more popularity. She becomes a diehard and promises to do anything to help her Idol, a dreamy movie star named Cleary Mintz, bring his vision of hope and purpose to the world. When she stumbles onto a threat against his life, she’ll have to fight harder than she ever thought possible or lose the man who means more to her than any other.




First, let me just say that I haven’t read a great deal of dystopian YA lit, but after reading Suspense I’m hooked on the genre. In Suspense, author Jason Letts has taken the idea of a dystopian future, and by adding his own brand of humor, action, twists and turns, he’s created one of the most original stories I’ve ever read. This book is truly a page turner…seriously, I read it in one sitting and every time I told myself “Just one more chapter”, I’d get to the end of that chapter and something exciting would happen and I’d have to keep reading to find out what happened next…and this kept happening until I finished the book and realized it was about 5am and I stayed up all night just to read it.

In the year 2102, the world’s problems- greed, violence, war, poverty, hunger- have seemed to vanish. Machines called molecular synthesizers are capable of creating absolutely anything and have eradicated the world’s need for money. People simply trade or give things away. Terminals allow people to be transported anywhere in the matter of minutes. And the whole world is connected with Connect, which takes Facebook and Twitter to a WHOLE new level. Without governments and politics, it is the Idols-there’s six of them- that divide the world’s population. People follow and support their Idol, and some choose to be diehards- ultimate fans willing to do anything to support and protect their chosen Idol. Spencer Nye is one of those diehards. Along with her BFF’s Jetta and Patch, Spencer is a Cleary Mintz (a handsome actor) diehard. When they uncover a deadly plot against Cleary, the trio must go to extreme measures to protect him, and in doing so they uncover secrets bigger than they ever imagined.

What really captivated me about this book is that even when things seemed outlandish or farfetched, there was a voice in the back of mind that said “OMG, this could actually really happen someday!”. There are elements in this book,-truths about our culture, our humanity, our plausible future- that are so startlingly, yet so very honest, and this book is as much about who we (the collective we) are now as it is about who we may become.

But don’t let this underlying heaviness-that I happen to appreciate and think makes the book that more refreshing and captivating- deter you from this book, because at its core it’s a fast paced, action packed, intriguing, and entertaining book. And it is very well written. The characters- the trio of Spencer; Jetta; Patch, the Idols, and the antagonists- are all well developed and dimensional. The characters are easy to connect with, Spencer especially, which is important because the story is told from her perspective. With Spencer, Letts has created a strong, capable heroine who has her flaws and insecurities. I found her quite relatable.

The action- there’s a lot of it- is fast and heart stopping and often left me breathless and on the edge of my seat. But the action was never too overwhelming and I never found myself lost among the punches, shots, whirrings, or shouts. And the storyline itself surprised me…it literally surprised me. I’m usually pretty good at predicting outcomes or where a story’s going, but Letts’ twists and turns led me to something I never expected…which I found pretty cool.

I must admit that the romantic aspects of this book kind of confused and overwhelmed me though. There isn’t a love triangle as much as there’s a love square or maybe even a love hexagon. At times the romantic aspects left me wondering so much that they pulled my attention away from the rest of the story. There were some romantic feelings that seemed to come out of nowhere and some that I’m still not sure I understand. However, this is only the first book in a series, so these questions and confusions may very well be explained and clarified in future books.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It’s edgy, smart, and gripping. I’m impressed by its originality, execution, and thought provoking aspects. I look forward to reading future books in the series and reading more of Jason Letts’ work.

My Rating
4 out of 5 Cupcakes

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Jason (that's him on the left) was kind enough to answer a few of my questions so that we all could get to know him and his book a little better.


1.  If you were to describe Suspense in a tweet, using only 140 characters, how would you describe it?

Suspense is the story of warring celebrities. The trilogy is like throwing fame, love, money, war, and tech in a jar and shaking it up.

2. Where did the inspiration or idea for Suspense come from?

So many popular dystopian stories focus on an oppressive regime that keeps its thumb on people and practically begs them to rebel, but I wanted to know what would happen in a society where people were able to do absolutely anything they wanted all the time. What would people focus on, and what would be important to them? Spencer essentially chooses everything about the world she lives in and the life she leads, and I like to think that helps bring out her character.

3. Who would your cultural Idol be? Who would you be willing to be a diehard for…and if you say Robert Pattinson, Justin Beiber, or Miley Cyrus I may have to boot you off my blog ;)

There are plenty of passing celebrities who have caught my admiration, from Alison Brie to Edward Norton, but who is doing something so important that I would be willing to die for them? Maybe Bono, fighting hunger and AIDS in Africa. Or even someone like Paul Newman (I always buy Newman's Own spaghetti sauce). The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation is doing amazing things for a variety of causes. So there are lots of people putting celebrity power to good use.

4. Imagine you’re inside one of the terminals in Suspense and you’ve just entered the code that will take you to the one place you’ve always wanted to go (real or fiction) or your most favorite place in the world and the doors open up…where are you?

I am a big traveler, having spent 2 years living in Japan and made trips to Thailand and Europe as well as around the U.S, so the prospect of doing more traveling is very appealing. I'm dying to go to Hawaii next. I used to have a big poster on my wall of Hawaii when I was a kid, and it's really somewhere I've always dreamed of going. Beaches, jungle, exotic plants and animals. I would love nothing more than walking through a door and transporting there.

5. If you could sit down with one author (alive or dead) and ask them anything, who would it be and what would you ask them?

This is a tough question because there are so many amazing authors and there's always the urge to ask big questions about the nature of human existence and all that, but I might ask something very specific. I would ask Suzanne Collins why they couldn't have had the truth come out at Katniss's trial.

6. Out of all the books you’ve written, do you have a favorite or one that you are most proud of? Do you have a favorite character that you’ve created.

I've worked very hard to develop as a writer, and so I do feel likeSuspense is my best work so far, but that doesn't mean I don't love my old characters. There was a small, fiesty girl named Aoi in the Powerless series who had a very interesting evolution. She really grew into something special. In Suspense, other than Spence, I really do feel for Jetta, who has a very complex relationship with her body. She's a very loyal friend though, even when things get weird.

7. Flipping through the books that I own, I often find notes or thoughts that I’ve written in the margins while reading. Are you a margin writer/note taker/thought put-er downer when you read?

I do take notes, though usually not in the book. Some lines are too good and must be written down, and then there are thoughts that just come pouring out after reading a book that left me wowed.

     8. What are you working on now? What kinds of books or  
     stories can we expect from you in the future? 

     At the moment I'm finishing up the second book of the Spencer Nye Trilogy, Expense. After   
   that? Who knows?  We'll have to see what comes to mind, whether it be more fantasy or   
   paranormal or contemporary. I'll have to keep my mind tuned to what readers are looking for 
   as best I can.

    I'd like to close by sending a big THANK YOU to Aeicha for all of her time and effort. I 
   sincerely appreciate it! 
   Hopefully you never run out of great books to read.

You are most welcome Jason and I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to you for taking the time to answer my questions and for allowing me to share your great book with the blogosphere!

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