Opaque by Calix Leigh-Reign - 5/10

Opaque by Calix Leigh-Reign is a bit of an interesting one. It reads very much like teen fantasy science fiction but the initial themes are very dark and typically avoided in even the most adult of books. Adam and Carly are the books two main protagonists, teenagers going through high school in America. As the story progresses both are revealed to be part of a large conspiracy to hide the fact that there are people with mutations that give them powers who are also hunted down by a secret team of Russian scientists. Eventually they band up with others who also have their own set of powers and fight the bad guys after going through the novel version of a training montage. As I said, it's very teen fiction (which is by no means a bad thing!) and while the plot is reasonably formulaic it has enough twists and action to keep it interesting as you go.

There are, however, a few issues I have with the book. The first is the theme. As a piece of teen fiction I don't expect the book to be free of peril or even to avoid difficult issues. However there is no indication that the reader is about to enter the mindset of an incestuous psychopath from the first page. From the get go, Adam is portrayed as an unhinged, self entitled and self important teen who views himself as superior to the 'animals around him'. He is sexually obsessed with his mother, although he doesn't actually act upon these urges and instead kidnaps another teenage girl with the intent to rape her. I should point out, it's not that I think the characterization is bad at this point, Leigh-Reign has done a pretty good job of creating and portraying a mentally damaged individual, it's the fact that most people reading this will be of a similar age to the character and might not be so mentally equipped to deal with these issues. This is compounded by the fact that later on in the novel Adam has a miraculous turnaround and becomes a typical 'white knight' for Carly after they become partners. The story moves away from the narrative that Adam is actually a horrific human (which he is) and more of a misunderstood product of an unfortunate circumstance. He is the pinnacle of  what people would call toxic masculinity and in this day and age where we see young men shooting up schools because a girl said no to them I don't feel that creating a hero out of Adam is appropriate or even remotely true to the character as she first introduced him.

My other main issue is the contradiction of language. After setting out to write about these pretty dark topics, Leigh-Reign then goes on to have her characters refrain from using any real language for their genitalia. Instead the reader is subjected to constant references to Adam's 'manhood' and Carly's 'womanhood' or worse, her 'flower' whenever either of the teenage characters becomes even a little bit horny. I don't really understand why she has chosen to be shy here when she is ready to write a reasonably graphic potential rape scene. 

Aside from the above, and Opaque falling for a lot of the tropes that plague this particular genre, such as what I like to refer to as the 'Goku Effect' (where the main character/s randomly go off for a bit of training and then come back a million times stronger than all of the other supporting characters rendering most of them pointless as support) it's not a bad addition to the genre, which is why I gave it a rating of 5 out of 10. As mentioned above it has a lot of action to drive the story forwards, teen romance (if you are into that kind of thing), super powers and a lot of moral dilemmas for the characters to work through. Opaque is book one in the series, and book two is already available to read.

You can buy it on Amazon here -->  Opaque: Scion Saga Book 1

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