Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: Boost (A Haunted Addiction #1) by D.A. Paul

ARC received in exchange for an honest review

Blurb from Goodreads:
They call it a boost.
It’s the buzz you get from absorbing the spiritual energy of the dead, and it absolutely terrifies Lidia Powell.

Shortly after meeting Ander at summer camp, Lidia is thrust into the world of psychic mediums and brought to a new school. At Mountain Heights Academy, even a casual pizza-date is accompanied by a ghost, and only a frightened uberdork would refuse the boost. To Lidia, the peer pressure to absorb phantom apparitions is horrifying, but to everyone else, it's the drug of choice.

However, when one of the students delves into dark energy, Lidia suspects that a boost isn’t as innocent as it seems. Soon, the boost becomes an addiction and Lidia must act fast before the changes become irreversible.

Boost by D.A. Paul is probably best described as a mix of Ghostbusters, and Vampire Academy. The main character, Lidia, is a teenage girl (I'm assuming around 16? The age was never really given or I missed it somehow) who gets entangled into a world of ghosts, spirits, and demons. She never wanted this life in the first place, never knew about it to be honest, and she wants to go home and live a normal life with her dysfunctional family. It's all a bit too much for her, getting whisked off away from her charming, normal boyfriend to go live in the mountains with a bunch of other teenagers who add high school drama to her already messed up world.

Okay, so I don't do most high school drama type books. My high school was a bit weird, I only graduated with 55 people and we couldn't really have that much drama because it was impossible to have secrets in the first place. Whatever grudges we had (and there were some, no doubt) we kept them to ourselves. You were stuck with them anyways and how else were we going to get a senior prank together? That being said, sometimes I just can't relate to the mean girls and backstabbing that goes on in some YA books. My reference for normal high school life comes from old school Nickelodeon. 

Odd note: if you google "high school drama gif" it's all Ouran High School Host Club and that makes me really happy
But anyways, Lidia ends up moving away from her boyfriend Ethan and basically being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the weirdest private school ever with his best friend who is not only a flirt but also terribly attractive. Because that's going to go well. Lidia has to learn how to deal with being away from the stability in her life while trying to figure out how to deal with the ghosties that keep cropping up in her life.

My appreciation for Lidia sort of waxed and waned throughout the book. I enjoyed the fact that she didn't feel the need to dress up when Ethan came by and rejected her mother's pleas to "look a bit cuter". My mother, to this day, still does the same thing. I went to church without lipstick and blush a few weeks ago and you would think I walked out of the house naked. We all know those mothers and I liked that this girl actually stood up for herself a bit. I didn't like the body shaming or the trash talking though. I know it was a few isolated incidents but wanted a girl to be smothered with her "overly large breasts" just rubbed me the wrong way. It's not the girl's fault that she is well endowed.

Also, the vegan part. 

Or semi-vegan. I get that some people do it for health, philosophical, and/or taste preference reasons and I completely respect that. What I don't like is when people call themselves vegan and then eat cheese and dairy saying that they couldn't resist the temptation. I don't care if an author makes a vegan character but PLEASE stop using it as a descriptor as if her diet dictates who she is as a person. I got it. She ate waffles for breakfast (which are made with milk by the way) and tried to avoid meat because it made her feel weird after something with her grandmother but it felt like it was every other sentence. Lidia was closer to a semi-vegetarian than a vegan and that really bothered me. It felt like it cheapened the point of her trying to be vegan.

Moving on from that, I actually really liked Ander for the most part. He's not a good boy and he's not a bad boy but somewhere in the middle. Lidia asked for him to leave her alone and he did so. He knew she was pissed off and he tried to protect her without being obvious about it. He respected the fact that Lidia was dating his best friend and respected her boundaries. He was flirty without being a jerk and there were no cringe inducing lines that you sometimes find in YA.

The idea of getting high off spirit energy is pretty unique and that was what held the book together for me. Getting a "boost" (hence the name) is literally like getting a tiny shot of adrenaline. It makes sense. Spirits = Energy. Energy = Endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don't get into as much drama as angsty kids.

But despite all of the good, interesting things in this book, there were some major flaws that didn't work for me. 

It felt like the stereotypical high school set up, that I'm starting to get really sick of seeing. We had the curvy sexy bitch girl. Check. We have the popular cool guy. Check. We have the awkward couple that everybody is slightly concerned about. Check. We have the guy with the lip rings. Check. It just seemed like there was a formula there and nobody really stood out. Lidia was beautiful and random guys developed crushes on her and she not only had a sort of boyfriend but also had Ander and every other guy that looked at her. Give me a girl main character who is confident in herself but doesn't have boys wandering around her like cows off their feed. I want strong girls who have insecurities but are honest with themselves.

Building on that was the sex. They are teenagers at boarding school. They're going to get it on. But it felt out of place if we're going to be honest. There was very little sexual tension for me because it was treated so casually. I think that if they weren't all having sex with each other, the relationships might have worked better. It went from zero to a hundred real quick. Lidia was thrilled about someone's pinky touching her thigh and then they were in bed together. It was rushed and there seemed to be little consideration for the stuff that happened between the first kiss and sex. That's not to say that it needed to be racy but it jumped around too much. There is awkwardness and deeper kisses between those things. There is more frustration and anxiety. The characters need to have more interaction with each other between those two settings other than just avoiding each other. It was a missed opportunity in that regard because there could have been more build up there.


The kids never actually seemed to be in class or at camp. They were supposed to be students and camp counselors but there was never any mention of them actually participating in any significant way. When I was at camp, the counselors were always busy and when I became in charge of 80 seven year olds for a few summers, I understood why. There is always something that needs to be done and you don't have a chance to go work on your tan. At school, there's always homework. Especially at a school that has high college acceptance rates and these kids barely seemed to go to class! I wanted a few classroom scenes but they were noticeably absent.

It just felt like parts of the book were missing. I was looking for tension. I was looking for teachers and kids getting caught out at night but it didn't seem to happen. This book could have been a hundred pages longer because it seemed like some of the descriptions and interactions had been pared down. Readers want to know what classroom life is like and what they do on their days off. Sometimes, it is good to see the characters lounging around talking shit and it just wasn't there for me.

But you know what? I probably would have really enjoyed this book in high school when I really think about it. It's a young adult book and I think it would be perfect for young adults. I wanted more from it but that might be because I like high tension and more crazy drama. I want high speed chases and hiding in the woods overnight with ghosts surrounding the main characters. The drama in this book was, I feel, suited for a particular age range and that worked well.

Big thank you to D.A. Paul for contacting me and providing me with this ARC!

Oh my goodness, am I getting old? Is that really happening to me?

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