Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...
Slambook: Our inner mean girl comes out to play. See More...

This Book Has No Pulse

A review of Pulse by Patrick Carman, a book that's a sure sign the dystopia trend needs to stop. Now.

This Book Has No Pulse

BOOK REPORT for Pulse by Patrick Carman

Cover Story: Is this the New Divergent Book?!!
BFF Charm: Hell if I Know
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Still in Revisions
Bonus Factors: Mysterious Loner Dude, Anthony Michael Hall
Relationship Status: It's Not Me, It's You

Cover Story: Is this the New Divergent Book?!!

Man, I figured they'd put another faction on the cover, rather than go with Amity again, but looks like ... oh, wait. It's not a Divergent book, it's some other dystopia. At least it depicts a scene from the book, although not one I'd say defines the book or anything.

The Deal

Faith Daniels and her BFF Liz live on the outside of the States, supercities built by international agreement as the only way to manage global warming. It's not mandatory to live in a State, but it sure is encouraged. On the outside, things are crumbling and falling apart, so when Faith and Liz get shuffled to a new school yet again, they're pretty sure it's going to be their last. Lucky (and unlucky) for them, they meet Boy Genius, Hawk; Mysterious Loner Dude, Dylan; and Wonder Twins, the Quinns, Wade and Claire. Dylan immediately recognizes Faith has a power she doesn't know about -- a pulse -- and it's up to him to teach her to use it so they can save the world.

BFF Charm: Hell if I Know

Despite spending an entire book with Faith & Co, I know them no better than I do your next-door neighbor -- that is, not at all. Faith is by turns a rebellious adolescent type, a swoony girl-in-love type, a reluctant savior type, and someone with serious anger management issues, but always a type. Out of all the others, Hawk comes closest to winning my charm, but the jury's out and I don't think I'll be back for the sequel to decide. Sorry, Hawk.

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

The romantic trials of Faith are pretty typical of a teenager -- she crushes on two guys immediately on arriving at her new school, and dates them in turn. One's a total asshole, and there's a Mickey-slipping situation that is disgusting. The other one ends up being my current least favorite trope in the world -- The Boy The Girl Needs In Order To Save Herself. Just once, I'd like to see a girl figure out her shit on her own, without needing a boy to come in and show her the way. It's okay if she falls in love while doing it, but damn. Give a girl some credit once in a while.

Talky Talk: Still in Revisions

I don't know if they pushed this ARC out too early, or if the final version is going to be as uneven, but man. There's a huge lack of characterization, continuity and just general cohesion in this dystopia. The world-building is shaky -- it's near enough in the future for kids to refer to our current present and for their technology to be recognizable, but it's still too far in the future for them to be referencing 80s and 90s pop culture like they do. I'm not sure even today's teenagers will get or care about some of the references, let alone teenagers forty years from now.

The POV switches around among each of the characters, although Faith and the Wonder Twins are the main focus of the book. Rather than give us that rarity in 1st-person-dominated YA lit, an illuminating 3rd-person-omniscient narrator, it just fragments the characterization to a point where I never felt much of anything for anyone, except occasional loathing. As for the story, too much time was spent getting to the WHY that I just didn't care anymore by the time it came along. I know some of the scenes served only to introduce characters and situations that would be built on in later books in the series, but their unimportance to the story l was reading was more irritating than intriguing. There's a weird Olympics subplot that's supposed to be a framework for some reveals and nasty business, but it's really just weak.

Bonus Factor: Mysterious Loner Dude

Boy, Dylan has it all. Skater clothes, total inattention in class, reticent, probably longish hair, too (I can't really remember), and an instant attraction to Faith.

Bonus Factor: Anthony Michael Hall

I thought about making Hawk a Duckie, but he's definitely more of an AMH. Nerdy, persistent and ultimately lovable, he's the kid who still sleeps with headgear and knows how to hack anything and everything -- and will totally do it just to get a pair of the heroine's undies to show off. And you know what? He's so cute, you can totally see WHY she's willing to hand over her undies in the end. Fun fact: Molly Ringwald and AMH were dating in real life while filming The Breakfast Club. And who says nerds don't win?

Casting Call:

AMH as Hawk (as if I'd pick anyone else)

Benjamin Barnes as Dylan (or maybe Luke Perry)

Relationship Status: It's Not Me, It's You

Listen, book, I was a little dubious about you when you showed up on my doorstep, but I knew you could either be a total dud or a total stud. Unfortunately for you, stud you are not. I stuck out the date until the end, but just so you know? That phone number I gave you is totally bogus.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Pulse will be available February 26.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.