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review 2015-07-27 16:49
Essence - Lisa Ann O'Kane
arc provided by Strange Chemistry through Netgalley
I... don't even know what to write about this book.
This is really weird, because I tend to love Strange Chemistry's books, I don't understand how they decided to publish this... but other people seem to have liked it, so...
This book has one of the most annoying and tstl heroines I've come across recently. Honestly, I spent my time going, "Girl, don't do it! Oh my God."
Add to that a nonsensical plot, no character development, no worldbuilding, AND A LOVE TRIANGLE that felt so forced I was just frowning at the screen the whole time, and I was just done with this. 
I was drawn to this book because Autumn escapes a cult. As it turns out she escapes from one cult to another.
The insta-love was dreadful, the way she used Javi to make Ryder jealous was despicable...
And Ryder, the ~hot love interest~, is so disgusting! Drugging her, showing off his bits in what amounted to real live unwanted (as if they're ever wanted...) dick pics, lying to her, being a horrible influence urging her to risk her life for the thrill of it... Pushing her to sex, alcohol and drugs for the adrenaline, instead of treating these things in a responsible way...
How was this even published to a young adult audience?!

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review 2014-04-16 21:50
Essence by Lisa Ann O'Kane
Essence - Lisa Ann O'Kane

(Description nicked from B&N.com.)


“Neutrality is the key to longevity. This motto has governed 16 year-old Autumn's life in the mid-21st century Centrist cult, which believes that expressing emotions leads to Essence drain and premature death.
But Autumn's younger brother’s death casts her faith into question.

While sprinting through a park in violation of Centrist teachings, she encounters Ryder Stone, an Outsider who claims Essence drain is nothing more than a Centrist scare tactic. She agrees to join his Community, a utopia of adrenaline junkies living in the abandoned remains of Yosemite National Park.
Autumn learns about sex, drugs, and living life to the fullest. But as she discovers dark secrets beneath the Community's perfect exterior, she realizes that this illusion of paradise could be shattered…”


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Source: www.owlcatmountain.com/2014/04/16/essence
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review 2014-03-28 19:26
Review: Essence by Lisa Ann O'Kane
Essence - Lisa Ann O'Kane

Note: this title will be released June 3, 2014.  I'm posting a review on my BookLikes account on 3/28/2014 for posterity. This post may be bumped up closer to the release date, and will be crossposted on my blog as well as Goodreads.


I'm at a loss for words because Lisa Ann O'Kane's "Essence" is little more than a contemporary YA romance with love triangle and coming of age leanings wrapped in a futuristic dystopian package.  It really isn't a dystopian title in any means because it literally does little - if anything - to play up the environment or even the future in which it takes place.  When you take away those parts of it, there's very little holding it together at all, and much of it comes across as ludicrous and puerile.  I honestly have no idea what's distinguishing this.  Scant worldbuilding and mediocre scientific focus to boot.


Autumn starts off the novel as a young woman who's recently lost her little six year old brother, and rebels against the society that raised her because of their callous attitude towards her brother's death.  They are a society that is restrictive in controlling the "essence" of the people in their population.  Strong emotions, non-conformity, things of that nature are all indicative of one who lacks balance in their respective "essence".  I could get behind that.  Even when I was a little skeptical of Autumn's quick to judgement movements and actions, I figured the book would expound on these details later on.  It caught my attention and the prose was easy to read through.


Autumn comes across a group of outsiders who convince her to follow them because of her doubts in the society she was raised and that they want to show her that her life has been a lie.  She's only minimally skeptical and ends up going with them without much fight at all (despite leaving her mother and aunt behind - because rebellion!). Even still, she says she's doing this for the sake of discovery in her brother's memory, but more like she's attuned to the alluring presence of a boy (Ryder) and his respective group.  She ends up toggling affections between two boys (one of which was formerly of her same group), discovering people who are partially unclothed or fully naked (as some of their water dives showcase), trying drugs for the first time, having sex, running (because her society's focused on meditation and notably sedentary as it would disrupt their "essence."  When Autumn takes off running in rebellion and feels the pain of physical exertion for notably the first time - I had to shake my head.  It made my fitness/wellness mind facepalm many a time).


It turns out that Autumn gets recruited into some tests that measure her essence in order to prove that the "essence" theory is B.S.  (Huh?)   And in order to prove that it's B.S., she's running with a group of her peers in these high adrenaline activities in what used to be Yosemite Park, but there have been volcanoes and natural disasters that decimated the world at one point (this is threadbare in establishment).  But she finds that more than one person is lying to her about her circumstances (including Ryder), and she undertakes a very harrowing task involving walking on a mountain without so much as checking until the last moment for her security details for very little reason at all, just because she trusts the person who doesn't turn out to be trust worthy at all.  But it's all okay, because she has the love of a hot boy (Ryder).  He likes to show off his nakedness to her, and even if he drugs her (just because his father told him to) and has sex with her (which was awkward) - she might call him out on these things and label him a jerk that's dangerous and wrong for her in one moment, but the next she's back to loving him as if nothing wrong happened at all.



WTF man?


This book had so many things wrong with it that it's just painful for me to even dwell too much on it.  I will say, constructively speaking to end this review out - that the character development and motivations were completely off and vague, the worldbuilding did nothing to play up the respective environment and make it interesting (or even clear cut), the love triangle/love story felt so forced it made me feel like it was a forgone conclusion, the character actions were supposed to be discovery/coming of age, but came across as stupid, the ending was a bit vague, and...


Yeah, none of this worked.  Not recommended.


Overall score: 0.5/5 stars


Note; I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry.

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text 2014-03-28 08:41
Reading progress update: I've read 234 out of 234 pages.
Essence - Lisa Ann O'Kane

Oh yeah, great job book.  You just so effectively managed to kill my book buzz vibe.  If only you were aware of your potent powers of sucktitude.



Review to come when I recover after a good night's sleep.

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