Found - Stacey Wallace Benefiel I was only partially aware that this story was the beginning of a companion trilogy to another one, so I made the sort-of mistake of reading a preview of Glimpse before jumping into Found. Quite frankly it just made my head spin, whoops! I ended up with far too many questions and definitely not enough answers.

As I lost most of what I had written up for this beforehand, I'm going to try to begin with what I noticed most about this book.

Spoiler-y bits ahead!

The author has very good potential to write very engaging, fascinating, and real characters, and the seeds for those are definitely planted in Found. However, I never truly felt a connection to them, and it wasn't entirely their fault. The 'magic system', per se, used in the story was interesting and clearly had a healthy dollop of work put into it. I wanted to see more development set aside for it, but unfortunately it was my biggest problem when it came to connecting with the characters. Because the Retroacts can alter time (and with little repercussion, aside from needing a monster of a nap afterwards), I never sincerely felt as if any of these characters were ever in any danger, which makes that aspect of the plot very predictable. Problem arises, the team gets in trouble, Protagonist simply reverses time and fixes everything. Rinse and repeat as necessary. I am a total sucker for stories with any sort of time-related abilities involved, but this predictability can be a really common problem with them I find. Because I never felt as if any of these characters could be forever snatched away from me at any moment, I never felt the desire to really get to know them and to savour my time with them.

To follow on with the characters, I really enjoyed that the author clearly is good at writing people, particularly inner dialogue. It's usually a weak point in a lot of stories, and although it wasn't as strong as I felt it could've been in Found, the foundations were definitely there. Despite that, I felt like the characters themselves weren't entirely...all there. I really didn't get to know them all that much throughout the story - yes, we know that Penny has a troubled childhood, but everyone else knows that too. We know she loves a certain band, but everyone else knows too. I feel that's where the knowledge stops for Penny herself. She starts out as some tough, abrasive and smart chick, but that quickly gets wicked away by life at the New Society, which I feel was an enormous shame. Wyatt started taking the lead a lot for her (and being a simple-minded, objectifying jock at times, which was quite shocking), which she was mysteriously okay with most of the time, when I would've expected her to fight for her independence. She fell into life far too comfortably and quickly - the power of influence that some of the characters had felt like a major cheat-code to me, as it would've been really rewarding to read about Penny learning to deal with her troubles in her own time, surrounded by people who were trying to be there for her. Of course she would make some mistakes, and of course everyone else would make some mistakes, but the satisfaction of being there alongside these characters as they developed, especially Penny, would have been terribly fulfilling by the end of the story. It also would have made the very interesting twist at the end hit a hell of a lot harder.

On a lesser note (and possibly a silly one), another reason I had a terribly hard time connecting with Penny is because she has been living off of the streets for some time, yet she owns a head of white and pink hair. It's my understanding that it's very difficult and expensive to achieve (and maintain) white hair, and if she's desperate enough to pay for a burrito with sex, I absolutely can't see her spending $75-100 getting her hair done. That alone broke me out of the story more than anything else. Penny is also described as petite and curvy - if she was spending her days wondering where her next meal would come from, it is highly unlikely she'd still have her curves. Also, I believe that coming off of morphine can cause weight loss (followed by problems with weight control afterwards) - I would've pictured her as someone with greasy hair (with faded, worn out dye at most), no make-up, sallow skin, and unhealthily thin. Not this groomed punk-rock girl Wyatt views her as.

Most of the characters introduced in the story (and there are a lot) are generally described as socially attractive. Penny even makes note at one point that she doubted anyone at the New Society was 'butt ugly' or bland-looking. This is an immediate 'nope' in my books; it's not realistic and the social construct of 'beauty' is false and extremely harmful. Not only that, but nearly all of the characters just seem so nice. They don't really have any bad points, which makes for unbalanced and very 'blank page' characters. Most of the teens ended up having surprisingly mature sides to them, and most of the adults ended up having really quite 'unmature' sides, which I was having trouble seeing past.

The technical side of the writing really threw me for a loop as well. I've been reading so much high fantasy lately that jumping into a book with a very modern, spunky, almost young quality to the writing was like jumping into the deep end! It really felt like listening to modern pop on some ancient radio, which, for the most part, was really refreshing. On the other hand, it did at times strike me as over-the-top and way too excessive to be realistic, which knocked me right out of the story and made it quite difficult to get immersed again. The narrative and dialogue felt a lot smoother and flowed much more easily during serious situations, I felt. The usage of 'bueno' and 'chido' was so frequent I ended up wanting to pull my hair out every time I saw them (do people really speak like that?), but as this is a slightly futuristic story, I ended up assuming it was a natural appropriation of Mexican (the touch of the hat to Firefly really helped this assumption!), and as I am not aware at all of the events in the Zellie Wells trilogy, I tried to let a lot of these things not get to me too much.

As this is something else I was assuming was explained in Zellie Wells, I didn't focus on it too much, but I won't lie, it was pretty confusing. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why only straight females and homosexual males seemed to have access to these powers. I don't recall seeing a single gay girl in the book, even though realistically I imagine there should've been some. The sheer amount of pairing off that was happening got to me as well. I understand that it was to do with the trigger/Retro dealio, but as someone who is asexual, it just ended up seeming kind of silly and contrived to me. I would've loved seeing how an aromantic, non-sexual character would've been handled here, as the setting provided a lot of ample opportunity to really play around with how relationships can work and how it would've affected the abilities. Because of the exclusiveness of the orientation of the characters, I really felt that this part of the story read more like a fan-fiction rather than a book, and I couldn't even connect well with the gay characters, which I've personally always felt much more comfortable with.

As it stands, I finished Found without really knowing anything about any of the characters. I couldn't easily tell anyone who asked things about Penny; her strengths and particularly weaknesses weren't all that clear to me. She also treated her past with an aloofness I found really kind of unusual, as if she was aware that it was serious and damaging to live through what she went through, but didn't feel all that connected to it. There was a lot of missed-out 'oomph' potential there, I feel.

All in all, I'd have to give this a solid 3 stars out of 5. I seriously enjoyed the potential that this world and these characters have, and am looking forward to reading the sequel (I'm hoping more time is spent on the characters then!).