3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Rion Grean just wants to be left alone. Raised by a single mother whose freelance job has uprooted their lives time and again, Rion has always lived a life of solitude. He has no idea who his father is. He’s leery of making friends, knowing that any connection he makes would be temporary anyway. And besides, Rion has his own secrets to protect. He is “gifted,” endowed with telekinetic abilities that even his mother didn’t know about. Or so he thought.
When Rion and his mother are separated after an unexpected attack, he makes a critical discovery. His mother has been keeping secrets of her own. Rion isn’t—and has never been—alone. There are people with gifts like his, clairvoyants who are also very surprised to discover Rion’s existence. Divided as they currently are, the clairvoyants share the same origin story and bear similar markings on their bodies. To them, Rion is an oddity, a fourth addition to the telekinetic strain of clairvoyants when there are only supposed to be three. Where did Rion come from? How is his mother connected with these “gifted” individuals and the organization that’s hell-bent on eradicating them? With nefarious enemies hot in pursuit, Rion has to trust in the fragile bonds he’d formed with these strangers he’d just met. The question is…will it be enough?
In The Fourth Kinetic, Brady Moore puts a welcome spin on the “socially awkward character learning to control his powers” trope by placing a black teenager in the lead role. The book celebrates diversity in the portrayal of the other characters, whose appearance and personality quirks make them memorable in their own rights. While Rion starts off as a sulky emo teen who’s quite difficult to like, the obstacles he overcomes and the connections he makes with other people bring out a more vulnerable side that readers will be able to relate with.
Unfortunately, the story flits too quickly from one plot point to another that there was barely any time for the supporting cast to also grow and develop. The changes they do undergo feel forced and sudden, and their decisions and actions seem to occur solely to address the protagonist’s needs at each given moment. The side characters conveniently become whatever Rion needs, whether it’s a best friend, a savior, a mentor, a rival, or a probable love interest, without seeming to have believable motivations of their own. Moving Rion’s story forward shouldn’t come at the expense of the other characters’ agency.
That said, Moore does present an interesting discourse on power through the core conflict that divided the clairvoyants. How can individuals bestowed with so much power still feel powerless? The option to make full use of one’s abilities or to hide in the shadows—to be predator or prey—drove several character arcs, including Rion’s. How he bridged this seemingly dichotomous choice gave the plot some depth and saved the book from becoming just another coming-of-age tale of just another superpowered teen.
I rate The Fourth Kinetic 3 out of 4 stars. I appreciate how Moore featured an underrepresented character in young adult fiction, but I wish the other cast could have gotten more “screen time,” so to speak. (The book could easily be split up into two installments to leave more time for character development and give the story some room to breathe.) In addition, the text definitely needs another round of proofreading. Errors are minor (e.g., capitalization issues), but they are numerous enough to disrupt the flow of reading. Advocates for diversity in YA fiction will definitely enjoy this book for its colorful cast of characters. Those who like fast-paced adventure stories will also find this a satisfactory read.
The Fourth Kinetic
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon | on Smashwords