I just finished reading Aversion, a novella by British author Kenechi Udogu. Novellas are new to me so I assumed that this would be a short story that would be a quick and entertaining read, like the short stories in magazines or literary journals. Or perhaps it would be a teaser for a longer length book--a novel of some sort. Just a little something to get a reader interested and wanting more. However, that was not the case. Aversion was a full-length story by itself. And what a story it was!
English is obviously Udogu's second language and, therefore, some of the prose in this story is a bit old-fashioned, "Son begets son begets son", or "I reckoned I could be satisfied with that explanation". It works though. Gemma Green, our Bella-like heroine, has been sheltered and taught to wield her special mankind-saving powers by her single father for her whole life, all fifteen years of it, so the obvious lack of slang and no constant mention of cellphones, texting, piercings and other teenaged necessities seems reasonable. Even Gemma tries her hardest at school to go unnoticed.
Gemma's father has a very good reason for keeping his daughter under the radar--she's the only female averter of disasters in modern times. Previous female Averters had become unmanageable and too powerful and were, therefore, killed off by Mentalists. Now, mating for Averters is scheduled and strictly overseen by Mentalists. When a male Averter turns twenty-one, he is presented with a specially chosen young woman who is guaranteed to only produce male Averters. This makes Gemma special, different, extraordinary. But not in a good way.
This fifteen year old plods through life and school and adolescence simply waiting to be able to help her wards avert disaster and tragedies in their lives through her mind suggestions. Like a robot, she was conceived to be a tool to help people. School, homework, home, and Aversion lessons consume Gemma's time. But when shocking secrets come out about Gemma's family, she breaks free of her assigned destiny. Gemma learns that she is not only the sole Female Averter but her parents were also unwed teens, running from the Averter community and the rule of the strict Mentalists.
This changes the way Gemma has previously viewed life. If her father and mother could buck tradition, so can she. And, although the results of her parents' rebellion were disastrous, Gemma wants the same freedom of choice that they had. Russ is the dreamy tennis player at school who is attracted to Gemma. Since life isn't turning out quite the way it's supposed to, Gemma throws caution to the wind and falls in love with him. First kiss, first date, first mind swap. She experiences it all with Russ. Unfortunately, by being different, she, her father, and her boyfriend bring the Mentalist's wrath down upon them. After all, these big baddies have been ruling the Averters for centuries. And they aren't going to let a little thing like First Love get in the way of order.
I was honestly mesmerized from the first page. Udogu has written a handful of popular young adult books before Aversion with the experience of a good writer behind her. Similar to the popular vampire/werewolf book series, Udogu's character, Gemma, is an average girl who simply wants to live her life with the school's hunk. The story will make readers believe that Gemma could be the girl-next-door who just happens to have a magical orb and can influence people with her mind. This makes for a great combination of reality and mysticism. The only time Udogu lost me was at the end. Since I don't want to spoil this awesome novella for you lovely readers, I will let you decide for yourselves whether the choices made at the finale make sense to you or not. Happy reading!!!
(reviewed 21 days after purchase)