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Author: Jeanne Ryan
Release date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Dial
Pages: 384
Formats: Hardcover, eBook


A chance at the ultimate makeover means deadly consequences in this Sarah Dessen-meets-Robin Cook thriller

Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness—that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it’s too late.

Part medical thriller, part social justice commentary, Charisma will have readers on the edge of their seats.


NOTE: This review is based on an ARC received from the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts about the book.

The Review

CHARISMA is a fascinating, chilling and immensely entertaining story that invites readers into a world where an untested gene therapy drug promises amazing results but unbeknownst to its recipients comes at a deadly price. It’s a story that reveals a likely and not-so-far-off future where one’s personality can be radically altered with a single injection. It’s a thought-provoking and gripping and utterly compelling read that will have readers debating the pros and cons of the scientific advancement.

When Aislyn Hollings is offered the opportunity to be a test subject for Charisma, a gene enhancement drug that is guaranteed to be life-changing, she is eager to accept. Her debilitating shyness has kept her from living the life she wants and she’s desperate to be someone who is not afraid of everything and everyone all of the time.

But when she starts to suspect that she’s not the only one to have been given the dose, or even the first one, her enthusiasm begins to wane. That is, until she finds herself becoming more confident, taking more risks, being more social, feeling more normal.

However, when some of the people she believes had their personalities altered by Charisma start getting sick and falling into comas, and the doctor who administered the dose stops responding to her texts and calls, Aislyn decides to break her silence, find out who else might be at risk, and begin a frantic search for a way to reverse the effects before the same thing that happened to them happens to her.

Jeanne Ryan penned an absolutely thrilling and heartbreaking and riveting story with a heroine who is incredibly sympathetic and smart and – with the help of Charisma – determined. Her story offers food for thought about the merits of gene therapy, about the risks, about the potential for its use in non-essential treatments, about its potential for use in life-saving situations. And it does so in a way that is engaging and interesting and hugely exciting.

CHARISMA is filled with twists and turns, frightening and tragic outcomes, captivating and likable characters, and appealing between-the-chapter tidbits. It is a suspenseful page-turner that combines science that is not entirely fictional, mystery and romance into a story that is positively enthralling.

It is a provocative read that will prompt discussion and debate and will keep readers thinking about it long after the story’s end.

The Rating


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