Flicker and Mist by Mary G. Thompson
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: January 3, 2017
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
Romance, intrigue, and plenty of action are woven into a rich and suspenseful narrative in this powerful YA fantasy. The mixed-race heroine Myra is a Flickerkin and can flicker (become invisible) at will. She hasn’t cultivated or revealed this ability, since Flickerkin are persecuted as potential criminals and spies. When invisible people become tricksters and then murderers, Myra’s Flickerkin heritage becomes a deadly secret, putting her relationship with the leader’s son—and her own life—in jeopardy. Loyalties shift and difficult choices are made before Myra understands who she wants to be.
What I Liked:
Not bad, but not captivating. I expected this book to be much more than it was. At the same time, it wasn't terrible. In fact, it might have been an excellent story, had it not been painfully boring at times. You'll notice other reviews on Goodreads that complained of the monotony. I understand them. There were big things that I liked about this book, but the book was also extremely monotonous.
Myra is half Plat, half Leftie. Plats are darker-skinned with dark eyes, Lefties are pale-skinned with light eyes. In this world, Lefties are discriminated against (the opposite of our modern world, in which colored people are discriminated against. But there is more - some Lefties are Flickerkins, descendants of Flicker Men that mixed with Lefties. Flickerkin can turn invisible (flicker). Myra's mother is Flickerkin, and Myra is too, but they've hidden their Ability for years. Flickerkin are not allowed in New Heart City, hence why they hide their Ability.. But when a rogue Flickerkin starts to play tricks and hurt people, all Lefties are tested and tortured in hopes of flushing out the Flickerkin. Not all Lefties are Flickerkin, but it doesn't matter to the Plat government. Myra must come to terms with the part of her that she has hidden all her life, because that part of her is what will save her.
I love how the author takes on so many social issues in this fantasy novel. We have a case of racism and prejudice - but it's the opposite of what we know. The pale-skinned Lefties are discriminated against - they are seen as lesser, and Lefties and Plats don't mix. Lefties are laborers and miners, while Plats are typically the of the upper classes. And Flickerkin - they are also seen as bogeymen. This book takes on racism and fear of races of people - innocent people who are discriminated against because of the color of their skin, their Ability, and/or what one or two evil people of their race or Ability have done. Sound familiar?
Although... it makes me wonder if the author is trying to make a statement about white people have suffered at the hands of colored people? I would love to know. Because... no. Don't do that.
The author also takes on gender roles. Myra challenges gender roles every time she rides her waterbeast (think horse), every time she wears pants (Plats wear dresses). This story's world is definitely patriarchal (and probably purposefully so), so it was good to see Myra's (extreme) opinions and feelings on gender roles.
It was also good to see that Caster, the love interest, was progressive-thinking. He represents the new younger generation (think Millennials) that can see past skin color or Ability. I was worried about his reaction when he found out about Myra being a Flickerkin (because of course he would out - that's not a spoiler). But again, Caster represents open-mindedness, which was good to see.
Basically, what I liked about this book most was how the author represented modern-day social issues that we deal with. Sometimes it even felt like this book was way too into those social issues - like, they took over the story and not in a good way. But overall, it's great that the author included such a heavy foundation of social issues, and in a unique way.
Myra was an okay character, though I didn't feel much for her or anyone else. Even the romance - theoretically it was shippy, but it felt very one-dimensional and "told" to me, rather than "shown". I thought it was a pretty cute romance though.
The book ends in an okay manner, but I feel like there is potential for a sequel. The ending didn't feel extremely fulfilling, but the story could definitely end as is.
What I Did Not Like:
I already mentioned some of the things I didn't like, but I'll go into more detail.
I felt literally next to nothing for most - if not all - of the characters. The book is told from Myra's POV, and even her, I didn't really care for. I felt for her, being discriminated against, struggling to accept her Leftie side, her Flickerkin Ability. She wasn't as flat as the other characters, but I struggled to feel anything for her.
The other characters were so flat. How I wish I could have swooned over Caster - he was flat and static and he felt like a cardboard character or something. I don't want to say "fake", but it was a lot of "tell" and not "show", when it came to Caster's characterization, as well as the characterization of the other secondary characters.
A lot of "telling" and not "showing" for the romance too. The romance felt leaden, wooden, stiff. I don't know how to describe it, but there was no swoon and flow to the romance. It was like, here's a kiss, here's a hug, oh you two are in love now, yay! Boring. For a book that is pitched as having a sweeping romance, I was NOT swept away. In fact, the romance in this book is flat and forgettable and nothing I'd want to see pitched as such (sweeping, captivating).
Which segues beautifully into my biggest problem with this book - ¡qué aburrido! I mean there is no other way to describe the majority of this book! I almost fell asleep several times while reading, especially in the beginning of the book. I kept looking at the page numbers like, how am I only on page 53, I've been reading for hours!? Good grief, the first half of the book was brutally boring. There was so little happening, and even when the first invisible man shenanigans started happening... yawn. I didn't care. The torturing of the Lefties started... yawn. It was so boring!
At some point, the story caught my attention, but then there were other annoying things that irritated me. Caster and Myra are clearly the shippy couple, but OF COURSE the author introduced a Leftie/Flickerkin boy in the book, once the turmoil started. Caster is a Plat, by the way. Do you see what the author was trying to do? She wrote the cliche in which each boy represents each half of the girl (because she's mixed, so OBVIOUSLY a boy from each race is going to be after her), and the girl must choose (because it's THAT simple in real life - choose a boy, choose your dominate "half"). I can't call it a love triangle because there was no romance between Myra and the Leftie boy, but the Leftie boy liked Myra. Whatever. I could get behind Myra and Caster because Myra pined after him for forever. But that cliche about two boys representing each side - I hate that. It's BS.
World-building and story - maybe the author was trying to do too much with this story? It felt like there were so many random pieces and parts that didn't really fit together. Myra is a champion rider, and the Games are happening in this book. There is Leftie discrimination and Flickerkin fear. Myra is trying to understand her Flickerkin abilities. Caster's father, the Deputy, is evil... or is he? Maybe it was just me, but it felt like there was too much happening but NOT happening. Like, the author introduced too many pieces to the puzzle and didn't quite fit them together by the end. Not to mention, I didn't really get a good feel for the world-building. Again, too much thrown at readers.
Would I Recommend It:
I do not recommend this book. It's not a bad book, but it's really not that great. I didn't like it much, but I did really appreciate the author writing so much in terms of social issues. There was a lot of issues challenged in this story (to an overwhelming degree, at times), which is respectable and good to see in YA literature. But this wasn't a really enjoyable book.
2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. Maybe I'm getting soft? I find it hard to give this book 2 stars, so I'm going with 3 stars. I might read a sequel, if there will be one. I'll also be content with just the one book and probably forget about this book in a month or so. It's not a memorable one, sadly.
Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!