Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult
GIFTED AND CURSED
Kaitlyn Fairchild has always felt like an outsider. Her haunting eyes and prophetic drawings have earned her a reputation as a witch. But Kait's not a witch: she's psychic. Tired of being shunned, Kait accepts an invitation to attend the Zetes Institute, where she can study with other psychic teens and have a fresh start.
As Kaitlyn learns to hone her abilities with four other gifted students, she starts to discover the intensity of her power - and the joy of having true friends. But those friendships quickly become complicated when Kait finds herself torn between two irresistible guys. Rob is a healer - kind and gentle, he's surrounded by good energy, while Gabriel is aggressive and mysterious - a telepath concealing his true nature. Together, Rob and Gabriel's opposing forces start to threaten the group's stability, and when an experiment traps the five teens in a psychic link - a link that threatens their sanity and their lives - Kaitlyn must decide who to trust and who to love...
I read Dark Visions about five years ago. They were one of the first books I read for fun. I devoured them, just like I did with any other L.J. Smith series that came my way. I’ve been recommending the books and lending them out to friends ever since.
Now that I’ve re-read the series, it pains me to say I didn’t love Dark Visions as much as I did five years ago. That is to say, I still really liked the story overall as well as Gabriel – Gabriel – but it didn’t blow me away like before. That has nothing to do with it being a re-read, because I actually didn’t remember anything. That’s the beauty of having horrible memory – you can read books again and again and always find new things to enjoy.
Kaitlyn Fairchild is a witch. She draws premonitions, only she can’t make sense of them until it’s too late and they’ve come true. She receives a golden opportunity when she’s offered a spot in Mr. Zetes’s Institution for teenagers with psychic powers – a safe place where she’ll be tested so she can learn to manifest and control her special powers. There she meets her first true friends. Beautiful, serene Anna Whiteraven, who controls animals. Tech whiz Lewis Chao, who’s psychokinetic. Golden boy Rob Kessler, who’s a healer. They immediately become close friends. The last student, Gabriel Wolfe, isn’t as easy to win over. The boy is an enigma – all they know is that Gabriel has been in jail and that he’s murdered before. Dark and mysterious, he builds walls all around him and shuts everyone out. But when the Institute isn’t what they thought it would be, they are all forced to work together. Especially when Gabriel accidentally forms a mental web, connecting all their thoughts. Privacy, what’s that?
One thing that I found fault with was the character development, or lack thereof. Most characters lacked a certain depth. Kaitlyn doesn’t seem to have any flaws, but I liked her nonetheless. She was pretty badass, and she didn’t let anyone walk over her, not even the guy she loves.
“I am not an object, something to be picked up or carried away or passed around.”
You go, girl.
I loved how she was always seen as the “freak” at school because of her eyes and her special powers, and she was so happy to finally have friends who accepted her for what she was. Having said that, they became really close really fast and their friendship wasn’t as profound as I would have liked.
Anna is an incredibly likeable character, but that’s all she is – sweet, serene, likeable. She wouldn’t hurt a fly. Literally, because she’s in touch with animals’ emotions. Rob is just the same – he is the golden boy, also literally, because his energy is described as a golden glow. He’s completely and utterly innocent and naïve. Ever since he’s been in a car accident, he’s a bit slow on the uptake (especially when it comes to girls) and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him in an “aww” kind of way. Then there’s Lewis, who needs his MTV, and provides a bit of comic relief as the underdog.
Their lack of character depth seems to have been compensated in the form of Gabriel Wolfe, who has all the depth in the world. For he is a psychic vampire – he feeds on life energy rather than blood, and due to an unfortunate accident, he’s forced to take it to sustain him or he’ll die. Kaitlyn is the first to discover this and tries to help him. Gabriel keeps blocking her out, but finds he’s not as immune to the redhead as he’d like to be. Gabriel is the strong, silent type. Where Rob is filled with gold, Gabriel is a dark grey, balancing on the edge between good and evil. Not to mention he’s pretty sexy.
Now, as L.J. Smith is one of my favourite authors, I can forgive her for a lot of things. Insta-love, love triangles, cheesy romances, I can overlook them. Maybe because the books were written before this YA love-dump began, or maybe because she makes it work. However, I’m not a fan of the romance between Kaitlyn and Rob. It’s too quick and very cheesy. Like, incredibly cheesy. They mention “forever” during their first kiss and everything is sunshine and rainbows. Throughout the trilogy, that relationship doesn’t mean a lot to me.
Story-wise, it’s pretty neat. I like the idea of an Institute for teenagers with psychic powers, and then for everything to go haywire like that was exciting. I loved their struggle against the Institute, the addition of the Fellowship, the evil and the pure crystals and how they affected psychic people, and especially the development of Kait and Gabriel’s interactions. There are a few less interesting bits, but it never bores.
The ending? Typical L.J. Smith – everything falls into place like a puzzle or a romantic comedy. Everyone is happy (usually with a significant other) and falling into each other’s arms. It is obvious that all is well and that they’ll be best friends forever. But you know what? I don’t care. Yes, I sometimes roll my eyes because it gets too cheesy, but when that final paragraph hits, I end up smiling despite myself. And if a book can make me smile, it’s worth a place in my heart.
See? I can be cheesy too.