Every so often, a piece of young adult literature is published that turns out to be spectacular. It has well developed characters, a cohesive plot, and makes you stop and think about your own personal teen experience. It's a book you can't wait to finish, a book that you can barely put down.
The Seven Rays by Jessica Bendinger is not that book. Not even a little bit.
In a word, it sucks. I know that's a harsh word, but it fits. Beth, the novel's protaganist, is actually kind of a bitch. There's nothing throughout the story that makes her endearing or even kind of likable. She's supposed to be smart, which from the novel's first person perspective comes off as condescending. She also apparently has no social skills. While her best friend and her mother are supposedly the most important people in her life, she constantly complains about them and ultimately treats them like crap. I hated her, and it was almost physically taxing to continue reading in her narrative voice.
Some novels have crappy protaganists, right? At least the story can be good! If that's the bright side you want to look on, The Seven Rays is going to disappoint you yet again. Whatever story this book was trying to tell, it got lost totally and utterly. Beth has some sort of power that is supposed to allow her to see the emotional connections between people. See what I just said there? That's not even in the book, so I'm not sure if it's even correct. In fact, Beth's powers are so ill-defined that thinking about them right now is giving me a migraine. While some times, her powers are so overwhelming she thinks she might go insane, other times they turn off with no explaination. She can also control lightening some how at some point towards the end, or at least focus it on the guy who's not her boyfriend.
Richie. Previously mentioned not-boyfriend guy. Let's not even get to him. Okay, let's. Talk about your 2-dimensional supporting characters. If it wasn't for Beth, Richie would have nothing to do. He uproots his life out of nowhere, breaks Beth out of an insane asylum (yeah, that happens), then basically takes her on a road trip where we learn nothing about him. Except his mom is an alcoholic, which I guess is supposed to make him sympathetic even though it's really not gone into detail. He can read Beth's mind for no reason, so it basically makes them both annoying at the same time. Also, he doesn't become his own character. So he reads like a tool. I guess it could be worse. He could be like Beth, re: above bitch.
The fact that I hated this story so bad is kind of upsetting. I met Jessica Bendinger in December of last year and found her to be delightful. When she described the story and read an except, she made it sound much better than reading the novel turned out to be. In fact, I'm now slightly embarassed for her. She talked about doing a series of these books, which from the book not ending, I'm going to guess the publisher was planning on, too. I really hope they don't make a sequel. In the past two years, this is most definitely the worst young adult novel I've read.