Pulse by Patrick Carman

PulsePulse by Patrick Carman
Series: Pulse Trilogy #1
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books on February 26, 2013
Genre: Dystopian, Paranormal, Science Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: ARC From Publisher
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★½

From New York Times bestselling author Patrick Carman, a teen fantasy-adventure of epic proportions. In 2051, some teens have a “pulse,” the power to move objects with their minds. Compulsively readable, with thrilling action scenes and a tender love story.

The year is 2051, and the world is still recognizable. With the help of her mysterious classmate Dylan Gilmore, Faith Daniels discovers that she can move objects with her mind. This telekinetic ability is called a “pulse,” and Dylan has the talent, too.

In riveting action scenes, Faith demonstrates her ability to use her pulse against a group of telekinesis masters so powerful they will flatten their enemies by uprooting street lights, moving boulders, and changing the course of a hurtling hammer so that it becomes a deadly weapon. But even with great talent, the mind—and the heart—can be difficult to control. If Faith wants to join forces with Dylan and save the world, she'll have to harness the power of both.

Patrick Carman's Pulse trilogy is a stunning, action-filled triumph about the power of the mind—and the power of love.

This books is one big UGH! Pulse was such a huge disappointment for me—so mush so that I’m really dreading writing this review. I really, REALLY wanted to love this book—and I thought I would—but it fell so flat for me, and that kind of breaks my heart.

This is going to be a long review, so if you want the quick and dirty, I’ll give that to you first. There were just so many things that added up to make me not enjoy this book: the frustrating characters, the bad decisions, the complete lack of romance, the totally unnecessary almost-date-rape-drugged crush at the beginning, the slow moving plot, the shaky world-building, and topped off with a writing style that I couldn’t click with. That’s the super summarized version of all the things that bugged me. Read on for details.

Faith was not a likeable character; she was naïve, reckless, impulsive, and had HORRIBLE taste in men. There was honestly nothing I liked about her. I never cared about her and I never got invested in her. She did a lot of things that just made me think “What the hell? One example, she meets a new kid named Hawk at school, and maybe one month later she’s inviting him to sleep in her bed with her. Not sex, just sleep, but still… WHAT?? I would never do that—would you?? Also, Faith was supposed to be a really smart girl, but the first thing she did was chase after a guy who Hawk informed her was “an asshole”. And that’s where the book’s problems truly start.

The initial ‘romance’ (if you can call it that?) in this book was unnecessary on so many levels. Faith starts chasing after a fellow student named Wade. Hawk already told her he was an asshat, but she went after him anyway. Why? I have no idea. He acts like a bit of a douche, but she totally brushes it off. He takes her on a date and she chooses this assclown over her best friend. Come on, girl. Chicks before dicks. Then, while on the date, he DRUGS HER, and she’s not that upset (until a bit later, maybe after it sank in?). Since Faith was so stupid about the whole thing, I didn’t even feel bad for her; I kept thinking that she deserved it. She ignored her friend who warned her about him, she ignored all the signs of douchebaggery, and she went for the guy anyway. Come on.

But the main reason I thought the romance was unnecessary was because after the whole near-date-rape-drug thing, it just died. It was like “Chapter over, let’s move on.” I honestly think that entire stupid crush could have (and should have) been cut from the book.

Moving on, the first half of this book was really slow. For some reason, I thought Pulse was going to be brimming with telekinesis from page one. Unfortunately, the first half of the book reads more like a lame high school drama than anything else. The telekinesis doesn’t even come into play until halfway through the book. And then when it finally did come, I just wasn’t all that interested. Either it wasn’t presented well, or maybe by that point I had already given up on the book so it couldn’t redeem itself.

Plot-wise, I just couldn’t get invested. At all. The world-building was a little shaky, but the main problem was that I didn’t understand the main conflict at all. It almost seemed like it wasn’t there. There’s a war brewing and there are two sides to it, both of which have telekinetic powers and are equally dangerous. But I had no idea what the ‘evil’ side was fighting for AT ALL. We sort of get an answer at the very end, but it was so vague that I still had a million questions and never quite understood it. What are they fighting for? What’s their cause? What’s the problem here? I have no idea.

From the blurb:

Compulsively readable, with thrilling action scenes and a tender love story.
Pulse blurb

First, “compulsively readable”. I have no problem putting this book down during the climax at the end. That should speak for itself. If I don’t mind putting a book down during what should be the height of the story, that’s a problem.

And, I’m sorry, but there is no love story. There was that absurd crush at the beginning (Faith and Wade—already addressed), and that doesn’t even count as a romance in my opinion. Then Faith and Dylan meet and I thought that would be the real love story in the book, but it is never developed. There is no flirting, no sexual tension, not even a tiny hint of a romance. Then, very suddenly, at the end, Faith and Dylan make a few comments that suggest they’ve been in love all this time. What??? Did I miss a ton of flirting and romantic build-up? Because it didn’t exist at all, and suddenly they’re claiming they love each other.

“When he turned to her, [Faith] wanted nothing more than to feel his lips on her own, to fix all the broken pieces of her life.”
Faith, ARC of Pulse by Patrick Carman, page 352

That is the first tiny hint that a romance ever exists. Note the page number (352 out of 384). Also, look at the last bit of that sentence: “to fix all the broken pieces of her life.” That is the WRONG reason to want to kiss someone and start a romance. To fix problems in your life? That’s just unhealthy.

Then we have Dylan:

“[Dylan] needed [Faith] in order to keep breathing. Every day she was gone was like a death march, walking through the day in a fog, his heart heavy like the hammer.”
Dylan, ARC of Pulse by Patrick Carman, page 359

Even Dylan and Faith’s friendship had sketchy foundations; I never felt their connection, let alone any sort of romance/spark/chemistry between them. So when Dylan started spouting this, I was literally just confused. How did these feelings even come about? I just have no idea.

Finally, the writing style in this book just was not for me. This is mostly a personal preference thing, but I couldn’t click with it AT ALL. I had two main problems with it. First, was the fact that we kept jumping from points of view, without any clear indicator or reason. The book was told in third person, but usually books in third person stick to one character. Even though it’s from third person, we see from one person’s point of view. We’re privy to that one person’s thoughts and feelings, but no one else’s (unless there’s very clearly a dual POV thing going on). But in Pulse, we were constantly aware of EVERYONE’S thoughts, feelings, and emotions. We didn’t skip from one “POV” to the next at chapter separations, we would skip mid-paragraph. At times, it actually got really confusing. I kept losing track of which character we were ‘following’ or who we were focusing on, because there was no pattern or sense to the changes. They just occurred at random times.

And secondly, there was one style of sentence in particular that reoccurred A LOT but I absolutely despised it. Here are a few examples:

“If he’d been watching the hammer fly, he would have seen that it was about thirty feet from landing.”

“If he could have seen outside the long line of windows of the classroom, Hawk would have noticed that [..].”

I really don’t like the “if he could have.. then..” format. It drove me NUTS and it happened all the time. It made me feel like the narrator was getting involved in the story itself, and I didn’t like that. In third person narration, I don’t like to ‘see’ or ‘feel’ the narrator. I just want them to give me the facts. Tell me what the characters see—DON’T tell me what they don’t see; if they can’t see it, then I don’t want to see it either.

I know I’ve been kind of harsh in my review, but please know that it really kind of crushed my soul to write this. I have been so excited about this book for months and the fact that it didn’t deliver for me is a huge disappointment. If you decide to read it, I’m seriously sitting here praying that you will love it. I wish I could have been one of those people and I wish I could have such amazing, positive enthusiasm for this book. Unfortunately, I don’t. I literally feel like as soon as I start a new book, I will forget about Pulse completely.

The Verdict


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  1. Aw man, I was quite excited for this one so after reading your review, I’m disappointed too. Yikes at the sudden rush into romance, I would actually be okay with no romance because then more focus would be put onto other things but if you’re going to put in romance, there really should be some build-up like you mentioned. The writing style actually sounds quite interesting but didn’t seem like it was executed very well. Thanks so much for your honest review!

    Charlotte @ Gypsy Reviews recently posted: Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman (#12)
    1. Thanks Charlotte! I would have been okay with no romance if the plot was seriously AWESOME.. but I don’t think it was. 🙁 Bummer all around.

  2. Well… as much as it hurts to realize you really didn’t like this book, I still think it’s better than the feeling of ‘meh’ that I sometimes experience. When I can’t even decide if I liked it or not, that’s most frustrating. At least you know with conviction that this simply didn’t work.

    Still, a bummer. Poor character development, romance, world building, and writing? What else do we read for?

    Jessie Marie recently posted: The List of Ten v.3
    1. That is an awesome point Jessie Marie! I definitely agree with you. I like being able to sit down and easily write out all my thoughts with confidence—whether they’re positive or negative. I hate it when you just don’t know, or you feel like you’re so indifferent that you have nothing to say.

    1. I guess you could start it and always DNF it if you don’t like it! But you never know.. maybe I’m just weird and you’ll love the pants off of it!

    1. That’s a good choice! Based on some of your reviews I’ve read, I don’t think you’d like Pulse at all!

  3. This definetly doesn’t sound like you had the best reading experience with Pulse!

    I’ve been highly anticipating this one because the premise just sounded so interesting but not I feel kind of let down. It just sounds like Pulse was a lot of randomness and highly unnecessary things! I don’t like how you descirbed the romance and the fact that it’s written in third person has thrown me off! I’ve read alomst everything lately in first person so it’s definetly a change! But knowing me I’d get super confused between the characters as well!
    Thanks for your thoughts Ashley!

    Lily recently posted: Time Between Us: Review
    1. Yeah I’m really starting to prefer first person. It makes me feel more connected to the main character. After I read a lot of first person books, reading a third person one always feels so… distancing!

  4. I’ve read a few other reviews for this one, and most don’t really like it either. It’s too bad, because I’ve enjoyed few others of Patrick Carman’s books. Oh well, not all books can be totally mind-blowing (even though they should!) Hopefully the next book you read will make up for it 🙂

    Janita @ Book, Interrupted recently posted: Top Ten Tuesdays! (5)
  5. holy moly! That is a review and a half. I only got to like page 70 with this book before i had to DNF because I couldn’t roll my eyes anymore, it was starting to hurt! I had to save my eyes!!! The narrative really bothered me like it did you as well. Sometimes it would switch perspectives in the middle of a paragraph. I couldn’t do it. Sorry you had to suffer through this!

    Jenni @ Alluring Reads recently posted: Requiem Review
    1. I’m glad you decided to DNF this book.. you really spared yourself! Did you get to the date-rape-drug part? Good lordy lord…

    Seriously, this crushes my soul, too. If I don’t like the MC I usually can’t stand to read it, and shaky world building would make me angry. If you didn’t like it I probably won’t either (and I’d probably have exactly the same problems). That’s SO disappointing, this was one of my most anticipated 2013 releases *cries in a corner*

    Jessi @ Auntie Spinelli Reads recently posted: Recalled Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway
  7. Ewwwww. I DNFed this one a few chapters in and I am SO glad that I did, because it sounds like it got way worse, not better. The world building wasn’t making any sense and I wanted to rip the characters apart. Thanks for writing such a comprehensive review and allaying any lingering guilt I felt about not finishing this painful monster.

    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted: Review: Unremembered
  8. I went ahead and read Pulse because of how much I enjoyed Dark Eden. Ugh. You’re review is dead-on. I should’ve just trusted you and saved myself some time.

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t like it either Nicole. 🙁 Such a shame, because it sounded kind of cool..

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