A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences in this Sarah Dessen-meets-Robin Cook thriller
Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness—that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it’s too late.
Part medical thriller, part social justice commentary, Charisma will have readers on the edge of their seats.
Charisma is a book I picked up because I read (and enjoyed) Nerve. Reading the blurb, I could identify with Aislyn, who suffers from awful shyness, as I am exactly the same with new people, groups of people or when I am the centre of attention. What I did not expect, however, was to also identify with Aislyn’s brother Sammy, who had Cystic Fibrosis, the same illness I have.
I thought Jeanne Ryan handled both characters well. I do believe that she concentrated more on the negative of shyness, and it came across a bit as if people who are shy are only ‘mediocre’, although I am sure it did not mean to come across this way. However, I feel that she handled CF very well, speaking from someone who completely understands the illness. To some people, she may have mentioned Sammy coughing too much, but that is very true to how CF works, it makes you cough a lot. I found it refreshing to see CF mentioned in a book.
As for the story and the book, I enjoyed both. It did start off quite slowly, but I believe that was to give the full impression of just how difficult Aislyn’s life was because of her shyness. Things did speed up after 80 pages, so I would definitely recommend sticking it out if you are considering putting it down beforehand. I wasn’t sure what to make of Jack. He just seemed like a boring guy. Evie, however, I thought was the best friend that everyone either has or deserves. She tried her best to help Aislyn with her shyness, and she was so supportive when everything kicked off.
I probably would have rated this 3 stars for the story and book, but I have rated it 4/5 stars due to the mention of Cystic Fibrosis.