Review: Oppression by Jessica Therrien

Jessica Therrien

Zova Books (2012)
346 pages
YA / Mythology / Supernatural

Purchase it from Amazon

Yesterday I realized that it was almost the end of March and I still had a few reviews that I had promised to have up and running this month. That means we’re having an awesome Friday bonus review! As part of the Debut Author Challenge hosted by The Story Siren, I had the opportunity to read Oppression by Jessica Therrien a few weeks ago during my brief stint of unemployment.

Oppression is about Elyse, who looks eighteen but is really closer to 90 and has the ability to heal people with her blood. It’s all kind of strange and she’s grown up living a mostly secluded life because it’s a little difficult to hide the not-aging thing during a time that’s supposed to be full of growth spurts and drastic body changes. Elyse recently moved into a nice little place in San Francisco where she meets William at the coffee shop downstairs. William can make people fall madly in love with him, and also happens to know entirely too much about Elyse and her secrets. Turns out she’s not the only slow aging, magic power welding person in San Francisco. There’s an entire institute of them! And they have a prophecy! And because of that prophecy, some people want to kill Elyse! Dun dun duuuun!

I wasn’t all together impressed with Oppression. I thought semi-human descendants of Greek gods (or at least the people the Greeks considered gods) could make a compelling story. While there are compelling elements to this book, most of it is pretty standard and formulaic. I also had a couple of big issues with storytelling mechanisms that either weren’t fully thought out or weren’t explained well enough for me to buy them. Primarily I had trouble wrapping my head around why 90-year-old superpowered god-like beings would be attending school and/or not have control over their powers if they were in fact nearly a century old.

I got held up by the fact that their lifestyle seemed to be dictated by the age they looked instead of the age they actually were. While I can understand why Elyse might have attended high school over and over again in the mortal world, why are all these people who grew up within the constructs of knowing their ancestry still in school after a couple of decades? What’s left to learn? Then again it might be because they only attend half an hour every week or so when the setting becomes convenient to the plot. I also didn’t completely understand why these characters weren’t smarter and more experienced than normal teenagers would usually be in similar situations. It struck me as though the slow aging characteristic was thrown in as a detail to make Elyse and her friends seem more otherworldly, but not implemented in characterization so it didn’t make much sense to me.

Outside of that Oppression is your basic “coming of age” story with Elyse trying to find herself while also getting herself into trouble every time you turn around. There’s a written-in-the-stars insta-love that had extra drama placed over it so it didn’t look like insta-love. Elyse kept important details from people, which inevitably got her into trouble and caused more damage than had she been honest. Therrien hit most of the standard cliché points that are in many novels of this genre.

I did enjoy how things turned out in the end as well as a sequence of events that occurred as Elyse and her friends traveled and experienced an annual cultural event (vagueness for spoiler reasons of course). These were the moments when the book started to seem more unique and showed signs of world building. I wish there had been more things like that and less of X-Men style duels in a rarely attended class or manufactured teenage drama within a group of people that should have far since outgrown melodrama.

I think someone who was looking for a new take on a romance type of supernatural drama might enjoy this one more than I did. Putting a mythological spin on the standard coming-of-age and/or “chosen one” storyline could really work for someone who can ignore what I thought were some glaring holes in the conception of the world. This is a series I’m going to have to pass on continuing.


I received a copy of this book as part of the Debut Author Reading Challenge ARC tour in return for an honest review and for shipping it off to the next in line.