Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

the addictive quality of power - Illuminated by Iris Marsh

In this coming-of-age YA contemporary fantasy, a teenage girl has her life turned upside down when her family is breaking apart, and she discovers her supernatural powers. There’s no time to deal with it, however, as she’s targeted by a dangerous power-siphoner.


Published: November 21st 2022

In this coming-of-age YA contemporary fantasy, a teenage girl has her life turned upside down when her family is breaking apart, and she discovers her supernatural powers. There’s no time to deal with it, however, as she’s targeted by a dangerous power-siphoner.

Nikki Chase, a 16-year-old striver, feels like her life is falling apart around her. Her parents’ marriage seems in trouble, her best friend prefers to spend time with the popular girl, and she’s quite certain she’s on the verge of a psychosis. After all, normal people don’t see colors around people or hear voices, right?

When a volunteering assignment leads her to a mental hospital, Nikki is determined to figure out what’s going on with her—and if perhaps she belongs in that facility. What she discovers is nothing she expected: Lorene, a volunteer, tells Nikki she’s not crazy but, in fact, has the power to influence people’s thoughts and beliefs. However, someone has been sucking the power out of people just like her, leaving them behind as an empty shell. Desperate for help and someone to trust, Nikki teams up with Lorene to discover who is behind the siphoning. But can she stop them before she becomes a victim? And can she do so without becoming addicted to the power herself?

Fans of suspenseful contemporary fantasy will love this YA coming-of-age fantasy thriller book about coping with difficult emotions, navigating relationships with family and friends, and the addictive quality of power.

If I had the power to control someone, would I?

I figured since this is the tagline of the book, I should, for once, ask myself this question.

In Illuminated, Nikki has the power to experience other people’s emotions, read their thoughts, and understand their underlying beliefs. But it goes further than that: she can also influence them. Giving an order within a thought can lead to the person actually doing the thing. Manipulating feelings can make others feel safe or take away their anger. Altering someone’s beliefs can affect their entire personality.

Initially, I think all of us will think, “No, of course not. That’s wrong.”

And manipulating people is wrong. I think we can all agree on that.

However, Nikki finds herself in situations where using her powers in such a way might not be so bad. What if you could change a belief that could take away someone’s insecurity? What if it would make them self-confident? What if someone’s depressed and we could use our powers to make them feel better? Or even cure them from their depression? Would it still be wrong?

And that’s where it becomes more complicated, right? When we think about the power to control people, we think it’s something to use for selfish reasons. But when we can also use it to help other people, it becomes a different story.

I personally feel it’s still not the right thing to do. I always feel change isn’t truly change unless the person decides to change things for themselves. If a change is forced upon them by someone else, have they truly changed? They didn’t have the chance to learn and use their experiences to change. And, when it comes to curing disorders like depression, I think it’s similar to using medications. It will likely help, but because it’s very complex, there will very likely be side effects. If you change one belief, it affects others. And disorders like depression aren’t just rooted in beliefs—it’s a complex interplay of chemicals. Let’s say it would be possible to change those as well; there’s a very good chance something will go wrong.

I think the only justified reason to use these powers to control someone, is when you’re in danger. If someone would threaten me—and I mean really threaten me—I would use it as self-defense. I’d use it to calm them down and make them walk away.

I always love these types of questions because, at first glance, they seem very black-and-white. But when you think about it more, there are always instances we can think about where it might be okay to use these powers or perhaps even the right thing to do. It’s these questions that Nikki struggles with in the book as well—rarely anything is ever truly black-and-white.

I think in a best-case scenario, these powers should be used to help people understand themselves and heal themselves. I always like to compare it with an extreme form of empathy. It’s possible to use it to get people to do what you want. But it’s much better to use your empathy to help people figure out their issues and work through them. Or even if we could use it to understand each other and where we come from. We don’t always have to agree with each other. But if we can understand each other, I think it’ll be a lot easier to have meaningful conversations and affect real change.

In that sense, I feel empathy truly is a superpower.

About the author:
Iris Marsh is a behavioral researcher turned writer. As such, she focuses on her character’s journeys as well as the plot. Her YA fantasy debut novel Illuminated is no exception: it’s both suspenseful and heavy on character development. Currently, she lives in the Netherlands with her partner and cat.

She would be overjoyed if you visited her website IrisMarsh.com and would love it if you followed her journey on Instagram.

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1 comment:

Iris Marsh said...

Thank you for featuring my book and being part of this tour! :)