Title: Power Surge (The Evanstar Chronicles Book 1)
Author: Sara Codair
Publication Date: October 2018
Publisher: Ninestar Press
Length: 293 pgs
Genre: Urban Fantasy, NA
Note: I was provided an ebook copy of this novel by the author for review, and I thank them for the opportunity. This is also an #ownvoices novel, which I highly appreciate.
Amazon Blurb: Erin has just realized that for the entirety of their life, their family has lied to them. Their Sight has been masked for years, so Erin thought the Pixies and Mermaids were hallucinations. Not only are the supernatural creatures they see daily real, but their grandmother is an Elf, meaning Erin isn’t fully human. On top of that, the dreams Erin thought were nightmares are actually prophecies.
While dealing with the anger they have over all of the lies, they are getting used to their new boyfriend, their boyfriend’s bullying ex, and the fact that they come from a family of Demon Hunters. As Erin struggles through everything weighing on them, they uncover a Demon plot to take over the world.
Erin just wants some time to work through it all on their own terms, but that’s going to have to wait until after they help save the world.
Spoiler-Free Review: It’s been a while since I’ve done a review, so let’s get to it.
(Takes a slow breath) Honestly, I didn’t write this until three weeks after I finished Power Surge for several reasons, the primary one being the main character, Erin. In fact, Power Surge was almost a DNF read, but hold on, I want to tell you the things I enjoyed about the novel first.
What I liked: The concept of a part-elf demon hunter isn’t a new one, but Codair does an excellent job of creating a world hidden in plain-ish sight. I liked many of the characters, especially Erin’s grandfather and many of the side characters too (I specifically discuss one below). Erin has a lot to deal with both in their real and their magical lives, and the side characters are all there to help them. The sneaky demons were a treat too, but I like qualities like wordplay and compelling in my antagonists.
Considerations: I struggled with this novel on multiple levels.
1) I’m afraid Erin falls into the what’s called the angry enby trope. They have a lot to be angry about and to work through, and demon hunting is certainly complicating things. That said, Erin’s more than snarky; they’re flat-out hateful to those trying to help them, and this doesn’t change much throughout the novel. Erin’s also violent to those same people, even their boyfriend. All this combined, and by the time I was 30% in I had to put the book down because I had come to detest Erin in general. It wasn’t that the enby rep was bad, rather, it was Erin I disliked. Regardless, I returned to the novel and waded through because it had a nonbinary main character. The general storyline is good, but I ended up disliking Erin even more at 100% than I did at 30%.
2) Jose (Erin’s boyfriend): Overall, I liked his character. That said he’s, at times, sexist and misogynistic in his speech (referring to his ex-girlfriend as a “sex doll” immediately comes to mind) which rankled me. At other times he’s extremely passive when it comes to Erin’s abuse. Having mental or physical problems (Erin has ADHD and lives with depression) does not give someone license to abuse, and this is what Erin does in several scenes. But Jose… He takes it to the point he comes across as Erin’s personal punching bag. At times, I wanted to yell at him, and I had to set down the novel, just for a couple of days this time, because of him.
3) Erin being non-binary: Yay for enby main characters! That said, I wish I had found Erin likable as a person. This has nothing to do with the enby rep (being nonbinary is the very least of Erin’s complications – they’re confident in their identity), but I take serious issue with their constant rage. A good character arc makes an attempt at remedying at least some of these issues, but I didn’t see any resolution or even progress in Erin’s problems. They better understand things by the end of the story and are talking about some issues, but that’s about it.
And, while I’m discussing non-binary status, there’s a minor rep problem that, while not significant, has niggled at me since I first read the story.
We learn Erin’s birth assignment in the first few chapters. While this doesn’t bother some people, it irked me, and what bothered me more is how it was revealed – via their inner commentary about their binder not fitting well since they’d gained weight and their breasts had taken on some of that gain.
A) I didn’t need to know Erin’s assigned birth at this point because it was unnecessary to the plot. It was an info dump.
B) While such internal dialogue might be part of Erin’s psychological issues, it sends a not so subtle and unhealthy message to readers concerning both weight and binding, and Codair does nothing to mollify or balance out the message. (Note: since I have never bound, I cannot speak with authority on the topic, but via research, I do know that it must be done correctly, can be very uncomfortable, can create scarring, and cannot be done full-time.)
Final thoughts: This book will make my Enby Book List, but I won’t be reading any more of the series because the main character is too hard to take.
Since I’m concentrating on nonbinary reads, I’m adding stars back to my reviews.
On a scale of 1-5 stars: three stars for positive rep in a story with an otherwise unlikable protagonist.