Saturday, January 29, 2011

REVIEW: The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum

B This is the January book selection for the Authors by the Alphabet Book Club. For links to other reviews and a book discussion, visit Marce at Tea Time With Marce.

How far would you go to protect a sibling-and at what cost to yourself?

The Stormchasers is a story about Karena Jorge and her twin brother Charles, who has a bipolar disorder. Karena and Charles have an affinity towards each other, a twin radar or "twindar" that always kept them close. As teenagers, they set on different paths. While Karena was preparing for college, Charles was seemingly adrift with only his obsession with chasing storms keeping him focused. Charles' behavior became more erratic as he refused his medication and on the night of their 18th birthday, Charles and Karena chased a storm that ended with deadly consequences and a secret that changed their lives forever. Within days, Charles was admitted to a mental hospital and Karena left for college and it isn't until 20 years later that the two are reunited.

Karena, who is now a successful news reporter, joins a professional stormchaser team under the guise of doing a story in an effort to finally find Charles, knowing wherever tornadoes are, Charles will be, too. Karena finds more than just her lost twin on this adventure, though. She finds lifelong answers about friendship, family and love... but will she and Charles ever find peace and forgiveness from the nightmare that occurred 20 years ago on that fateful night of their 18th birthday?

The Stormchasers is an interesting story about the strong bond and affection between twins, bipolar disorder and the metaphorical use of tornadoes to describe bipolar disorder. The author presented many great facets of the characters and the story arc, yet I felt I spent a lot of page time anticipating and waiting for startling character developments or plot revelations that never came to full fruition. I never felt completely convinced that the characters themselves truly recognized their own growth or the strength in their connections, especially regarding Karena. Charles seemed to understand himself more and is actually more at peace with himself than Karena, which was actually unexpected and quite refreshing given he's the one with the 'disorder.'

The story is told in the third person present, following Karena's perspective which I found a bit unusual and I think it kept me from becoming absorbed into the story. Karena goes here, she does this, she sees this, remembers this, thinks this and then eats this and then goes there. I don't know... I felt like I was just watching over her shoulder, but never really getting to know her or experiencing her story. I also felt the pacing was choppy for the first half of the book. The story finally started to come to life for me about halfway through when we meet Charles.

While learning about Charles through Karena's memories of their childhood and teenage years, I felt pity for him and silently begged for him to stay on his meds so that he'd be 'normal' and safe. Yet, when Karena and Charles are finally reunited and I see Charles in the present, through my own eyes, I developed tremendous admiration for him. During the years he and Karena were apart, Charles was chasing storms but finding himself along the way. He learned to respect his body, learn its rhythms and be true to his heart. He may not be as successful in life as seen from the eyes of society, but to me it's apparent that he was more productive in finding contentment with himself and his life than the lonely, haunting life his twin was living. Not only that, but it turns out that Charles was actually the one protecting Karena all these years by keeping their dark secret, not the other way around, which was quite a satisfying revelation for me.

As a reader who is fond of romance and happily ever after endings, I am pleased to report that there is a romantic subplot for Karena and a stormchaser she meets on her trip to find Charles. While a fairy tale ending would not be fitting for this story for either Karena or Charles, simply given the nature of their story, the author still penned a happy ending perfectly suited to the characters. I gave The Stormchasers three out of five stars on goodreads, which translates to 'I like it'. According to the grading system I adopted here on my blog, but haven't used ages, I would give The Stormchasers a B-.


  1. Great review.

    Seems we all gave this one a 3 and had similar feels about it.

    I love how you talked about Charles, great addition to your review, you did have to admire him.

    Look forward to your choice for Feb.

  2. Great review, Christine, and good job!! :) LOL.

    Interesting dynamics between Karena and Charles, although I'm not sure this type of book is for me ^_^;

  3. Fantastic Review Christine! Sounds like you enjoyed it. :-)

  4. Nice review, Christine! Have a wonderful week....

  5. Sounds like an interesting subject matter that would usually get me to read the book. I would read it, but that 3rd person present would kill it for me. :(

    Loved your review.

  6. Marce, it's almost uncanny how we all gave this one the same rating. I'm curious to see if how close our opinions will be as we get through the alphabet.

    nath, you're right. I don't think this is your kind of book. LOL! :)

    Deanna, Thanks! I definitely enjoyed the book despite some of its shortcomings.

    Julie, thanks for visiting. Hope you have a great week, too! :)

    Hilcia, the 3rd person present was very jarring. It was tough going for a while there.

  7. Great review. As someone who grew up with a bi-polar family member I'm not sure I could read this one.

    Hope things are going well with you!

  8. Great review Christine and an interesting premise, but...not sure if it's right for me :)

  9. We really were VERY close in our opinions here! This was great and can't wait for Bet Me! It sounds great :)

    Tomes Devotee


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