I Don’t Think They Looked up the Word in the Dictionary: Charisma by Jeanne Ryan

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.

Source: GoodReads

One of the most offensive things someone that I’m close to has ever told me is that because I’m an introvert I will never get anywhere in life and I must make myself an extrovert. This person (an extrovert) very obviously put his foot in his mouth and I still haven’t quite forgave him for that particular excrement that came from his mouth but I kept thinking of that horrible remark when I read Charisma.  And all I wanted to do was kick his extrovert ass, so I had to make do with this book instead.

Full disclosure, book was picked out by my sister who picked it out solely because of its cover. We both have a thing for cute animals, so it sat on my shelf for like a year before I read it. I was actually watching Limitless the other night and thought the plot sort of looked similar—a drug or in this case gene therapy that causes a person to become “better” with some unfortunate consequences. Unfortunately, even though this book had an interesting premises its one of those cases where the execution was sort of hideous.

Yeah, I know seems to be a recurring theme this month.   I think even though it seems like I’ve read a prodigious amount of books I’ve DNF’d quite a few of them. This is in part because I’m no longer forcing myself to struggle through something I know isn’t either interesting me or I’m not liking. I think in the case with Charisma was that the book had horrible pacing, and honestly I didn’t think Aisyln’s woes were worthy of taking a miracle pill over.

Ryan spent a good seventy or so pages discussing Aisyln’s life before she took Charisma and honestly while it was bad it wasn’t that ad. In books like this, you need to make the character reach a pivotal low point so the drug reaches more miraculous results. It didn’t. Her life was bad, but I’d say I seen worse cases of social anxiety in YA.

Also, a side note, maybe I didn’t understand why the social anxiety medicine she was on would give her palpitations. I have a high pulse rate/high blood pressure and take a beta-blocker every day, it’s the same sort of drug that’s used for people who suffer anxiety since it lowers the heart rate—a symptom of anxiety disorder. I don’t understand why taking a stimulant would be given to someone suffering from anxiety?

That being said I’m not a doctor and I guess we needed a cure for Aislyn being shy…


Other than that, what really bothered me was how much shyness and introvertedness were looked down upon in this book. I’m sure later on, there’s a come to Jesus moment where Aislyn learns that being shy isn’t the end of the world but with how everyone is treating her like its some sort of defect and how she lost a science fair over it when she clearly had the better project…I don’t know it just bothered me.

I really wish the scientist lady who invented the drug or someone would be you can be successful in life without being loud. Because there are a lot of loud people out there that make asses of themselves like the current GOP presidential candidate who can’t seem to shut his big fat orange trap.   You know, that would’ve been a nice little life lesson rather than if you can’t flap your trap you must be defective.

But obviously what do I know…

Nothing since I’m an introvert.

So yeah, this didn’t work for me. Maybe later on that little life lesson I wanted to see would make an appearance. But as it stands, it didn’t and I didn’t have an emotional attachment to any of the characters to really bother sticking around.

Overall Rating: DNF


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