3 out of 4 stars
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Opaque by Calix Leigh-Reign is a young adult paranormal romance. It is the first book in the Scion saga. The story’s male protagonist, Adam, is a troubled young man who alternatively feels as if he has unusual powers and wonders if he may be profoundly psychologically disturbed. His favorite books include “The Life & Mind of a Sociopath in Training” and “Essential Telekinesis.” Despite being generally well-liked by his fellow students, Adam thinks of them as “animals.” He has a strained relationship with his father while possessing an abnormally strong bond with his mother. Adam feels that no-one besides his mother will ever understand him until he meets Carly, a new student at his school. He feels a strong attraction to Carly that goes beyond the physical, and through her, he learns surprising truths about himself.
The author has noteworthy character creation and world-building skills. I felt at times that the author went a bit overboard with describing the clothes that the characters were wearing and their physiques. It seemed that there was not a single ordinary-looking person in the entire town, other than Adam’s father. When most characters are exceptionally attractive, it begins to feel like watching a high school movie on the Disney channel, where even the “ugly” people are better-looking than average. It doesn’t feel authentic.
I was surprised to find that the thing I liked most about the book was Adam’s bond with Carly. I’m about as romantic as an old tire, and I tend to find teenage romances even more insipid than the adult variety. However, their bond was based on more than lust and they worked well together and supported each other. I enjoyed their interactions.
There were a couple of things that I disliked strongly enough about the book to knock a star off my rating. First, I found the frequent references to Carly’s hindquarters creepy. Second, for a story that takes a sympathetic view of its initially extremely troubled protagonist, I found the author’s use of the term “bipolar” as an adjective appalling.
“She sighs at his bipolar actions.”
To use a neurological or psychological condition as an adjective in this way is extremely demeaning and is either done out of ignorance or insensitivity. I would hope that it is the former because ignorance can be redeemed by education.
When people use “bipolar” as an adjective, they are usually implying that the person they are referring to is mercurial or moody. Many people displaying these characteristics do not have bipolar disorder, and many people with bipolar disorder do not display these characteristics. Speaking for myself, what bipolar disorder is for me is a lifelong companion that I did not ask for, and one day it may get the upper hand and kill me. I find it extremely insulting to have my fight of close to 55 years reduced to an adjective. One would never sigh at a physically ill person’s “cancer actions.” I would hope that the author would refrain from using a serious health condition as an adjective to describe a character’s demeanor in the future.
Because of these unfortunate literary choices, I am giving Opaque three out of four stars. I came close to only giving it one star because I was so incensed at the use of “bipolar” as an adjective. However, the overall story was enchanting. It was professionally edited, and I could find no errors in the text.
I would recommend Opaque to readers who enjoy paranormal/sci-fi thrillers. I recommend it to teen audiences with the caveat that it is a dark story, and while the author never describes any erotic activity in detail, it does contain numerous adult themes and thus might not be suitable for younger teens.
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