Marissa Meyer is easily one of my favourite writers of YA sci-fi/fantasy, so of course I was curious and thrilled when she released a YA contemporary book!
Chronic overachiever Prudence Barnett is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.
This is totally an opposite-attract/enemies-to-lovers kinda book and did I mention how much I love that trope? I loved the chemistry between Prudence and Quint and it was such a ride to watch their dynamics change over the course of the book.
Despite the fact that the book is marketed as a rom-com (the light-hearted and super cute cover too), believe it or not, a huge chunk of the story revolved around conservation of sea creatures, which I believe is such a great cause. I loved that the book presents a meaningful message that hopefully will inspire readers to be more mindful of the environment!
Prudence was not an immediately likeable character, and it was so awesome she had flaws. She was judgmental and too much of a perfectionist to trust others’ work. Also, she admitted that she wasn’t a “fun” person at all—she’d rather plan out her life and her career than spend a night out partying, and she cared more for her grades than for the environment.
It was amazing to watch Prudence’s character grow over the course of the book. In the beginning, Prudence was an overachiever who prided in completing her assignments to perfection, so much so that she often undervalued the work of the people around her. Throughout the story, she discovered her unique strengths, and more importantly learned to rely on others to fill the gaps. She was also personally relatable for me (I swear I was exactly like Prudence when I was in high school!)
The side characters were awesome too, from Prudence’s twin brother Jude (yes, all her siblings were named after Beatles’s songs!) to her best friend Ari. I loved that they each had unique quirks and qualities that made them so fun to read about, and everyone, even the most minor of characters, were more than what met the eye.
The cover and even the book description totally misled the true essence of the story. The description placed a huge weight on Prudence’s “power” to deliver instant karma, when in fact it was a small aspect of the story. The main focus of the story was truly on wildlife conservation and Prudence’s own development as an individual. Even the romance component of this book was secondary to these main points.
On a related note, I felt like this book almost tried to do too much. There was the instant karma part, Prudence’s character development, wildlife conservation and activism, romance, and even (yes, there’s more) a mini-mystery toward the very end. I gotta say, this is the most jam-packed and fast-paced contemporary novel I’ve ever read (not a bad thing) but I do wish it had a bit more focus.
Instant Karma was not the fun and brainless read I expected, but I totally fell in love with its message about conservation of the environment and Prudence’s growth as a character.