October 25, 2011

The Superstitious Type • The Seven Rays

The Seven Rays book cover
The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: November 24, 2009
Source/: Bought || Hardcover

You are more than you think you are. 

That is the anonymous message that Beth Michaels receives right before she starts seeing things. Not just a slept-through my-alarm-clock, late-for-homeroom, haven't had-my-caffeine-fix kind of seeing things. It all starts with some dots, annoying pink dots that pop up on and over her mom and her best friend's face. But then things get out of control and Beth is seeing people's pasts, their fears, their secrets, their desires. The images are coming at Beth in hi-def streaming video and she can't stop it. Everyone thinks she's crazy and she's pretty sure she agrees with them. But crazy doesn't explain the gold envelopes that have started arriving, containing seeing keys and mysterious tarot cards. To Beth, it all seems too weird to be true. You are more than you think you are? But here's the thing: What if she is?

I picked The Seven Rays up for two reasons - the intriguing yet simple title and the shiny, eye-catching cover. It looked interesting enough and when I read the synopsis, I was pretty much sold on the book.

Tarot cards play a large role in this novel; as someone who doesn't really know much about them, I did appreciate getting to see the illustrations and trying to understand/distinguish between one card and the next. However, the connection between the cards the rest of the magical stuff happening in the book was a little confusing, especially when the mention of other cultural beliefs and religions popped up. I tried putting things together in my head, but I just ended up wandering around in a confused muddle.

I liked the idea of the "seven rays", but I thought it could have used a little more focus and exploration. The abilities that Beth possessed were interesting though, if a little creepy/strange - I liked trying to figure out what it meant right alongside Beth herself. Visualizing what she sees and the situations she's in is kind of fun to do. Her character apart from her abilities, however, is difficult to relate to.

Bendinger characterizes the other people in the story in a definitive manner, showing us specifically what kind of people they are (except maybe Beth's mother). It confused me at first when some random character's name would pop up in the middle of Beth's saga, but I gradually grew accustomed to the pattern. That having been said, even if Beth is the important one, I would have liked to have more interactions with the others.

Though I tried really hard to like The Seven Rays, it didn't work for me, apart from the abilities and a few interesting moments scattered here and there. While there was a great premise to start with, I feel like I just finished it because I wanted to know what the heck was going on with Beth (and though I found out towards the end, I'm still not really a fan).  Unfortunately,  The Seven Rays didn't live up to the promise of its cover and synopsis.


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