A Review of Volition, by Lily Paradis

A Review of Volition, by Lily Paradis

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

While not my usual type of read, Volition by Lily Paradis (author of Ignite) spoke to me.  I ordered it after discovering via tumblr that it was on sale on Amazon.com.  Right away, I was drawn in by Paradis’ charming prose and unique, almost vicious character descriptions.  The voice of Tate, the narrator, lured me in pretty quick–from the start, she was such an engaging, intimidating character, I found myself needing to know where the story (where Tate) was leading me.

The journey was not an easy one.  There is something disarming–and highly endearing–about such a headstrong, angry narrator.  When we first meet Tate McKenna, she’s drunk.  In first class.  On her way to New York and the promise of a new, heartbreak-free world.  All we know for sure is she’s running; from her past, from her family, from a number of unnamed but tragic losses.  When the man across the aisle cozies up to her before touch-down, we watch (almost helplessly) as Tate makes the first of many new decisions.  It’s the first of many steps that will ultimately change her, though she doesn’t realize it.

“New Tate,” as she calls herself, is not in New York to meet men.  She’s there to take her life back; to get back on her feet.  She’s there to find herself, away from the past.  To pick herself up and stand on her own in such a cold, ruthless world seems daunting.  Along with lifelong friends Colin and Catherine, Tate finds herself drawn into a new world…and to Hayden Rockefeller, the mystery man from the plane.  He will show her what it means to open herself up to someone else; to be comfortable with loving and being loved in a way that doesn’t leave her broken like the past did.  What she finds in Hayden is a home she never imagined…but can she let the ghost who has haunted her for so long, the one that’s suddenly reappeared demanding more, go?

This novel tugged at me in ways that others do not/can not.  Tate’s relationship with Jesse is outlined in flash backs and wayward thoughts; we learn, through these snippets, it is volatile, poisonous, and addictive.  Drawing from what seems to be personal experience, Paradis shows readers how hard it is to let go of someone who both hurts and mystifies you, someone you both hate and love.  It’s an obsession.  The kind that destroys, leaving nothing in its wake.  It can never work or be “good.”  Oil and water don’t mix; hearts are a forest of kindling, love is an accelerant, and fate struck a match just to watch it all burn.

C.S. Lewis said:

“In your life you meet people. Some you never think about again. Some, you wonder what happened to them. There are some that you wonder if they ever think about you. And then there are some that you wish you never have to think about again. But you do.”

(source here)

This novel explores, with deep commentary and heart-wrenching scenes, the ways these different people may affect us through time.  There’s Casper, the boy Tate begins dating in high school; he acts as a form of selfish or childish love.  He is one who, had things turned out differently, might have become the first or second.  There are Colin and Catherine; the friends.  Obviously, they remain close to Tate throughout the story, but I’d like to think, if they grew apart, they’d at least keep in touch: the occasional, “I wonder how they’re doing now” if nothing else.  There’s Hayden, who acts as Tate’s “true” (I say this because I don’t necessarily believe in true or everlasting love; people change, emotions alter, things don’t stay the same).  And then there’s Jesse.  The last one.  The one I think we all have had, in some capacity or another; the one who got away.  I feel Volition takes these different forms of love and turns them on their heads, almost.  In most romances or love stories, the girl ends up with her soul mate; but Paradis makes a valid point:  there really isn’t only ONE soul mate allotted a person in their lives.  There are many.  The problem is, sometimes they aren’t the kind we think we need or deserve.  Sometimes, we just don’t see them.

While I enjoyed this book overall, I’m not sure Paradis made a good choice in switching out at the end.  Through the whole novel, we see the world from Tate’s eyes.  We don’t get to see how Casper feels or what he thinks of her; we don’t get to understand any of the characters except through Tate’s perceptions.  So the switch at the end, to suddenly detailing the main characters’ internal thoughts, does almost nothing for the book.  I understand why she did it; she felt readers needed or deserved to know Jesse’s motivations.  I don’t know that I agree with this.  While it enables readers to see “fate” working in mysterious ways (take Tate’s mom meeting Hayden’s in the park, for instance, before Tate is born) I don’t feel it adds anything to the actual story.  I don’t think we need to know Jesse in that way.  Real life isn’t like books, movies, or the SIMs; we often DON’T know people’s motivations unless they explicitly tell us.  It’s obvious Jesse may never tell Tate the real reason he put so much strained distance between them.  I feel like the ending of this loses something, I guess.

I really enjoyed stepping out of my reading box for this book, though, and highly recommend it to those who like true-to-life/romance stories, such as those from Rebecca Donovan, Jodi Picoult, and Nicholas Sparks.  This book will keep you on the edge of your seat…and maybe teach you something about yourself in the process.  I know it did me.


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