If there was a pill or an injection that you could take to make yourself more sociable and outgoing, would you take it? That's the premise of Jeanne Ryan's latest YA novel Charisma.
Aislyn is shy. So shy that she can't go to parties without needing to leave after 10 minutes, can't speak in front of crowds, can't talk to the boy she likes. (Because as with every YA novel, there is a boy!)
But then Aislyn is offered an underground gene therapy treatment called Charisma that promises to alter her DNA and reduce her crippling shyness. And it works! It's also apparently working for others who have been given this drug, but its negative side effects, namely putting people into comas and killing them, begins to outweigh its positive effects. Aislyn is determined to find a solution to this dangerous drug before it claims her life.
This futuristic medical thriller really kept my interest and poses interesting questions, especially because some of the science in the book is not far off from where scientists are today. How far is too far when it comes to changing yourself instead of accepting who you are, good and bad qualities? Do you really need some sort of crutch in order to have a good time and be liked?
There's also a message about not giving up, fighting for what you believe in, and the promise of medical progress, especially for those with life-altering and life-threatening diseases, such as Cystic Fibrosis, which is the disease Aislyn's little brother has.
I like that the author included information on gene therapy and viruses at the end of the book to give readers some information and help them put Aislyn's fictional world into real-world perspective.
Charisma is published by Dial and is available on bookstore shelves now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.