Thursday, June 19, 2014

Random Reads Review - Talented by Sophie Davis

Title:  Talented
Series: Talented #1
Author: Sophie Davis
Release Date: January, 2012
Pages: 386
Goodreads Rating: 4.10/5 Stars
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
My Content Rating: Mature YA (Violence, Sex is discussed and implied but not shown)

Summary from Goodreads:  Block it out. Impossible for Talia Lyons. When you’re a Mind Manipulator, it’s hard enough to block the thoughts of others, let alone your own.

Block it out. The pounding, siren-ready world Talia inhabits as she trains with her fellow Hunters, the country's top-secret covert operatives. The physical demands. The emotional toll.

Block it out. The secrets that Talia’s boyfriend is hiding. Talia’s unbidden feelings of frustration and annoyance toward her teammate, the Casanova of the compound. The wondering why she cares what he thinks.

Block him out. Ian Crane. The man behind the bloodshed marring Talia’s memories of her murdered parents. The man she’s determined to kill.

Block it all out. Focus.

Talented is an emotionally raw Dystopian Romance, about the life of a girl with extraordinary psychic powers, and what happens when a heart is torn between love and rage.

Talented was one of my two Random Reads for June.  I got this book at BEA - it's been out for a while, but I hadn't heard of it and I was definitely intrigued by the synopsis.  I just had to pick this one up!

Talia attends McDonough Academy for the Talented - a special school for kids who have developed powers (due to a nuclear spill that happened generations ago, some people have genetic anomalies) - powers like mind reading, shapeshifting and extreme intelligence.  Talia joined the Academy with revenge in mind - she wants to destroy the man who killed her parents.  In order to do that, she has to become a Hunter - an elite member of the Academy who acts as a spy and sometimes assassin.  But once Talia starts going on missions, she finds that being a Hunter isn't everything she expected.  She starts to doubt that she's cut out for it.  And to make things worse, Talia's personal life is exploding, pulling her focus when she needs it most.

What I loved:
  • The Action.  Talia's training at the Academy is intense and her missions are all action-packed.  This book is definitely not a slow read - between the emotional drama of Talia's romantic life and the suspense and action of her missions and training as a Hunter, there is never a dull moment!
  • Erik.  Erik was definitely my favorite character in this book.  He's one of Talia's two teammates - a bit of an arrogant playboy, but really all heart.  From the very beginning of the book, you got the feeling that Erik was going to be more than a friend (and that he didn't like Talia's boyfriend very much for some reason), but Davis definitely didn't jump into anything.  Erik cares for Talia - that's for sure.  And I was completely drawn in by him - until a couple of things that he does toward the end that really frustrated me (but I won't get into those here because they'll be spoilery).
  • Gray area between good/evil.  If you read my reviews regularly, you know that I appreciate books where the line between the good guys and the bad guys is hazy.  This is one of those. (The following is a slight SPOILER, though I don't go into any detail about what actually happens.) The "bad guys" are Ian Crane and those who follow him - some of the states have rebelled against the US and seceded over the issue of how to deal with the Talented.  At first it seems that Crane and his followers want to force the Talented into hiding and squelching their abilities, but by the end of the book, there are hints that it may be more complicated than that.  Plus, the people that Talia has come to love and depend on may not all have only her best interests at heart - it's all left a bit up in the air at the end of this book, so I'm eager to read the next book in the series to find out what happens!
The negatives:
  • Talia and Donavon.  Okay, here's the thing.  I read the blurb (which is worded slightly differently on the actual book itself) and it calls Talia's boyfriend "questionable," so I knew the relationship was headed somewhere bad.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.  The trouble is, it took a LONG time to happen (I know it was easily past the halfway mark in the book), and up until that point Donavon seemed like a truly nice guy.  In fact, it was Talia who kind of seemed like the messed up person in the relationship.  First of all, even though Talia said she loved Donavan, she also seemed constantly unsure of him.  She was just kind of frigid - and I don't mean just physically (though it did seem odd that she'd never let the guy get past first base when they'd been dating for years).  She was also emotionally frigid.  For instance, when they were younger, she'd told Donavon that she loved him and he had hesitated in saying it back.  She got mad and he (later that same night) apologized and said that the idea of love just freaked him out since they were so young, but told her that he did love her.  Well, she held a grudge.  Over two years later, she still refused to say "I love you" to him, and when he would say it to her, she would just say, "I know."  Now, I can understand being a little miffed at first, but that seemed to be carrying things a bit far!  There were lots of other little things too.  I just felt like she wasn't a very good girlfriend.  So by the time the big "thing" was revealed and we were forced to hate Donavon, I kind of had a harder time feeling sorry for Talia than I should have. 
  • Unclear Talents.  I wasn't always clear on exactly what Talia's Talents were.  She was able to read people's minds (although some people could block her out, sometimes without her even knowing it) and manipulate their minds, but she was also able to do things like open doors or stop bullets with her mind.  I was sometimes just a bit confused about her powers and their limitations.
  • Erik's actions at the end of the book.  As I mentioned above, I really liked Erik, but he did a couple of really frustrating things toward the end of the book - one seemed slightly out of character and the other was just plain dumb!  Won't go into what they are (but if you'd read the book and want to discuss, message me on Goodreads!).
Overall, I enjoyed this book and I am definitely looking forward to reading the next one! I give it 3.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

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Books in the series (Talented is FREE!):

About the Author
Sophie moved to Washington, D.C. after graduating from Penn State University to pursue a career in the Sciences.  After deciding to actually write down one of the stories she makes up in her head, Sophie began the long journey towards her first full-length novel, Talented.  There are now four books in the Talented Saga.
PAWN, the first book in Sophie's new series, the Nightmares Trilogy, was released in April, 2013.  
When Sophie isn't hunched over her computer, she can be found shopping in Georgetown, running in Rock Creek Park, or at the local dive bars in her Columbia Heights Neighborhood.

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