Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.
Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future
I could not refuse reading Farsighted when I came across it and not just because Emlyn Chand is such a nice lady. How often do you find yourself coming across a story with all the elements that would attract you in the first place, in this case young adult paranormal themes, and told from the perspective of a character who is vision impaired?
For me I can say not often. I put it in the ‘Hmm should you touch that?’ basket, well when the author herself is not visually impaired that is, along with other uniquely personal conditions. And I’m glad Emlyn Chand decided to go there, but I don’t feel I can remark on how well she captured the perspective so I won’t. What I found really interesting was from the writer’s side of things.
Think about when you begin to read a book; what comes up and is expected in the beginning or close to? Descriptions. Physical descriptions of what people look like. Of course physical descriptions of that kind aren’t going to be present in a first person story narrated by someone who is visually impaired. It’s funny because I knew the character couldn’t see visually, but I still had to remind myself in the beginning why there were no physical descriptions of the people Alex came across.
It was enough to reinforce how much we can take sight for granted, including in written form, and how much we can rely on it to distinguish between one person and another. A character is physically described as burley or lanky, you’ve already got an idea of what type of character they may end up being. Our perceptions of how a character will be have been shaped over years and years of entertainment stereotypes and clichés.
But that’s entering into another argument there.
The point I’m going for here, before I digressed, is Chand has used a technique that she’s pulled off really well. Is it a never-used technique, no I don’t believe so. Is it a unique technique? I think in some ways it is because what a lot of readers have come to expect in writing standards is not something that will be present in a first person story narrated by someone who is visually impaired.
Instead we get smells and sounds, beginning with grass, which I loved. Everyone has their own unique odour and if you pay far closer attention than I did, instead of just being swept away, the different smells Alex shares with us might give you some clues as to what is going on.
There’s also the timbre of people’s voices, the music they create vocally, and the sounds that accompany them when they move or enter a room. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how much we can identify without the aide of vision. Farsighted brings that to your attention and I loved how the descriptions were utilised to show it. I love the use of other senses instead of relying on visual aspects of everything and how the former can create a picture for you regardless.
One of the best things about this perspective, instead of challenging writing, is the opportunity it presents with having far less emphasis on a person’s visual description. There were no ‘hot’ or ‘beautiful people’ comparisons between groups and characters. I found this very refreshing and I feel it helped to focus on Alex’s ideas and what’s going on in his head without the extra mess of cliques.
As for the story, I didn’t want it to end. When it did it took me a moment to realise that it had, followed by a second of disappointment, before I discovered there’s a sequel on the way.
I adore this story. There’s people with gifts, people struggling, people who need help, and there’s conflict. All the basics you need woven into a well-written plot that can keep you guessing. The romance side of things doesn’t have a large emphasis and I’m not sure if it’s even there to begin with. The romance might be something that has to come about later on with a more subtle beginning. I’m fine with that because I’m not big on romance, but it will still be intriguing to see how it plays out. You can’t really avoid it as it is mixed up in how Alex reacts. That young man has some definite issues to deal with and not of the physical sort.
It was interesting the turn the story took. Alex becomes fixated on the good guys Vs bad guys cliché, possibly to the point of being blinded by it, and I think that turns me off his character somewhat. I actually found myself siding more and more with Dax, the nominated bad guy, before we even find out much about him and what he is up to. There’s that idea there of judging before understanding and not accepting the grey area, which added more dimension to Alex and his experiences. I don’t see Alex giving much a chance. He seems to be more bull-headed and wearing blinders than anything, making up his mind before having all the facts. At some point my impression is of him being an arrogant lose cannon with reactions that might lead to something else and knowing other readers love him has left me baffled to a degree.
I believe Farsighted is a great example of escapism that works as it took me away from all around me. These days I do find it hard to focus on reading when there are noises around me, it doesn’t matter if they’re in another room and are hushed, but it was quite easy to do so with Farsighted. The characters are realistic, they’re interesting, and I think the way Alex perceives them adds an element of mystery to everyone around him. This is definitely a story YA fantasy lovers should check out and I know I’m looking forward to the sequel, Open Heart.