Review: Pulse by Patrick Carman

Patrick Carman
Series: Pulse, #1
Release Date: February 26th, 2013
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Number of Pages: 384
Source: Patrick Carman - thank you!
Rating: 1.5 stars

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From New York Times bestselling author Patrick Carman, a teen fantasy-adventure of epic proportions. In 2051, some teens have a “pulse,” the power to move objects with their minds. Compulsively readable, with thrilling action scenes and a tender love story.

The year is 2051, and the world is still recognizable. With the help of her mysterious classmate Dylan Gilmore, Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and Dylan has the talent, too.

In riveting action scenes, Faith demonstrates her ability to use her pulse against a group of telekinesis masters so powerful they will flatten their enemies by uprooting street lights, moving boulders, and changing the course of a hurtling hammer so that it becomes a deadly weapon. But even with great talent, the mind—and the heart—can be difficult to control. If Faith wants to join forces with Dylan and save the world, she’ll have to harness the power of both.

Patrick Carman’s Pulse trilogy is a stunning, action-filled triumph about the power of the mind—and the power of love.

Warning: Mild spoilers ahead

After finishing and forming my own - and mostly negative - opinions about Pulse, I'd decided to flip back to the first few pages of my ARC and read some of the advance praise quotes it had gotten so far, and see how vastly those opinions differed from mine, and more importantly if I found them to just be the basic difference in opinions, which I will always accept, or something I find to be completely and utterly false, which I have a not-as-easy time accepting.

After going through some of the advance praise for Pulse, I'm disappointed to say that most of the praise falls not into the 'difference in opinion' category, but more of the 'false' category. Clearly, there is is a difference in opinion considering these people enjoyed Pulse and I, for the most part, didn't, but some of the things these sources come up with about Pulse only leave me baffled, examples below:
Pulse is full of action, heart-pounding adventure, great characters and relationships. Your pulse will quicken with each and every page of this creative and unique look at the future.
I only find one thing in that entire statement above to be true, and that one thing is that Pulse is a creative and unique look at the future. Is it well-thought out and explained? No, not at all. But the concept of telekinesis in a dystopian world is one I've never come across in young adult, so I give the latter part of that last sentence my seal of approval. It's everything before that sentence, however, that leaves me wondering if I received a correct copy of this book. If I were to rewrite the above statement, and in doing so make it play more fair to the book's content, it would be something similar to this:
Pulse is full of action in the last quarter of so, almost non-existent adventure (unless you consider moving cups with your mind adventure), poor and mostly unlikable and under-developed characters and extremely unhealthy relationships. Your pulse will do nothing with each and every page - and this sentence is only here for the sole purpose of using the word 'pulse' in a blurb for Pulse - of this creative and unique look at the future.

 To say that Pulse is full of action truly is a shame, considering the only amount of real action we ever receive is in the final quarter of the novel, and even that isn't captivating or even thrilling. There is little-to-no heart-pounding adventure in Pulse, either. In fact, I'd go out on a limb to say that the entire first half reads like a very poorly written high-school drama, the telekinetic aspects and anything that could be even remotely interpreted as adventure kicking in barely after the fifty percent mark. The characters were some of the most frustrating and unlikable characters I've come across in quite a while, with the exception of the main character's best friend, Liz, and the relationships were also some of the most unhealthy I've come across in a while, ranking with the likes of Edward and Bella in their stalking days, and, dare I say, the likes of Travis and Abby from Beautiful Disaster, thanks to a scene where the main character's then-boyfriend drugs the main character so that she'd forget something he'd done on their date.

Does that sound like a great, healthy relationship to you? No?

That's what I thought.

But what about this relationship, between the main character, Faith, and one of her friends from school, Hawk? Upon first seeing Hawk, Faith 'turns around and smiles painfully. Then she turns back to her Tablet, rolling her eyes as soon as she could without being seen by the crown prince of dorks.'

Now isn't that just the sweetest thing you've ever heard? What likable characters! What amazing relationships!

... But I'm not done.

It seems like the one and only basis behind Faith actually befriending Hawk is that he can get her pairs of jeans and other articles of clothing for ridiculously cheap prices. There really is no other basis for their relationship, and yet soon they're inseparable and the best of friends. But that's not why I find their relationship unhealthy in a ridiculous amount of ways. What makes Hawk and Faith's unhealthy, and quite honestly really creepy to me is one particular scene ranging from pages 156 to 166. For starters, let me just show you the sentence this scene starts off with:
Standing outside Faith's window at midnight wasn't something Hawk had planned to do.
Well isn't that... sweet... In this scene, Hawk watches Faith sleep for a little bit (something which far too many people in this book do, and something which Faith has no problem whatsoever with), and bangs on her window to wake her up. Faith, of course, is unfazed by Hawk standing outside her bedroom window at midnight (it's not like it's creepy or anything...), and invites him inside her room. Illegality ensues as Hawk shows Faith some of his super awesome hacking skills (not a euphemism), and then they both fall asleep in her bed. Then another character is standing outside Faith's bedroom window, watching the two sleeping together, and realizes that Hawk's Tablet is facing the direction of the bed.

Recording it.

"He just wants to document a cute moment!" you say. "It's sweet!" you say. "You're looking too far into it!" you say.

"Shut up." I say.

Moving on to another statement I find to be completely and utterly untrue in the 'advanced praise' section of my ARC is:
"[...] Fans of The Hunger Games will devour it."
What? Where... where would you even come up with that? Pulse has absolutely no correlation to The Hunger Games whatsoever.

I... what? *shakes head* Whatever.
"The scariest of Carman's novel is how believable it all is."
In what way, shape, or form is this novel believable? Going through the advanced praise pages some more, I see quotes like: "An astonishing look at the future of humanity!", and I'm just left here thinking, "How?!" Pulse contains global warming so intense that the entire Californian coast submerges underwater, along with a few other coasts, so the remainder of the population travels towards the center of the country for protection. Could that be an astonishing look at the future of humanity? Yes, I suppose so. But the world-building in Pulse takes up such a minuscule portion of the novel that I have a hard time believing that is what the two quotes are referring to. How are forcefields that resemble walls and move inwards toward the country and destruct anything that gets in their way believable and an astonishing look at the future of humanity? How is the concept of teenagers with telekinesis believable and an astonishing look at the future of humanity?

They're not. Absolutely nothing in this novel is believable - from the development of the world, to the development of education systems after only forty years, to the development of the characters and the relationships. It seems like practically everything in this novel was a massive fabrication of real life, which is fiction, and I'm not complaining about that, but don't go off saying this book is believable and is an astonishing look at the future of humanity when it bears little to no resemblance to reality and the progression of it.

With almost non-existent world-building, unhealthy relationships, unlikable characters, and an incredibly slow moving plot, I think it's safe to say that Pulse is one of the most disappointing releases of 2013. While the second half picked up the pace quite significantly, and had me at least somewhat engaged in the plot, it was all far too late for me to begin caring. I'm sure if I'd gone in with more moderate expectations and hadn't read the advance praise in the beginning of my ARC, I would have liked this just a bit more, but c'est la vie. Hopefully with this review, anyone with an interest in reading Pulse will go in with lower expectations than I initially went in with, and will end up finding themselves enjoying it more because of those expectations. It seems like most people have fallen head over heels with this one, so don't take my word for it, because maybe you will too.


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