This was offered in a trilogy as an introduction to the series on Amazon for free a while back – a quick check shows that these first three books are indeed still free. I downloaded them because the synopsis sounded like something that I would enjoy, and free, so why not?
This is a collection of the first three titles in The Girl in the Box Series, which are about a teenage girl who develops powers far beyond those of a normal human, and her battles against those who would use her against her will. (Approx. 185,000 words total.).
Alone – Sienna Nealon was a 17 year-old girl who had been held prisoner in her own house by her mother for twelve years. Then one day her mother vanished, and Sienna woke up to find two strange men in her home. On the run, unsure of who to turn to and discovering she possesses mysterious powers, Sienna finds herself pursued by a shadowy agency known as the Directorate and hunted by a vicious, bloodthirsty psychopath named Wolfe, each of which is determined to capture her for their own purposes…
Untouched – Still haunted by her last encounter with Wolfe and searching for her mother, Sienna Nealon must put aside her personal struggles when a new threat emerges – Aleksandr Gavrikov, a metahuman so powerful, he could destroy entire cities – and he’s focused on bringing the Directorate to its knees.
Soulless – After six months of intense training with the Directorate, Sienna Nealon finds herself on her first assignment – tracking a dangerous meta across the upper midwest. With Scott Byerly and Kat Forrest at her side, she’ll face new enemies and receive help from unlikely allies as she stumbles across the truth behind the shadowy organization known only as Omega.
So we have three books. My initial thought after finishing that last one was really, they could have been condensed into one book. A quick check of the authors webpage reveals to me something that I thought was fairly evident during my initial read of the books: the author is self published. For me the clue here wasn’t just the writing, but the need to add in how many words were in the first three volumes. Why is that necessary? And also, for three books, that’s not a lot of words.
These books are more like novella.
Of course, being self published isn’t a bad thing at all, and fair play if it’s something that you can make work for you, but there’s the lack of refinement that comes with reading something that’s gone through the hoops at a publishing house.
I want to touch briefly on each of the books.
Alone – we’re introduced to Sienna, a girl that’s been left at home by her mother. Her mother hasn’t been seen for about a week, and Sienna isn’t allowed to leave the house. Ever. Or there’ll be punishment [a box/coffin type imprisonment]. Her mother is abusive – there’s no other way to put it – but that doesn’t stop Sienna wanting to find the only person she’s ever known. There are strangers in her house, so she opens some kick ass martial arts, and goes on the run.
This book felt very one dimensional. It was essentially Sienna vs Wolfe – a super strong metahuman that wants to capture Sienna. No one knows why, and she gets taken away by those shady agents that turn out, maybe, to not have been quite so shady.
I actually kept forgetting that Sienna was called that, her name is uttered so infrequently.
Untouched – in this one there is slightly more going on than Sienna vs Wolfe – we have to start dealing with consequences. Well, sort of. Maybe not. The author tries to sort out what happens when Sienna’s mutant/Rogue powers are in effect, but then ends up having her drugged rather than really deal with it. We have a new threat, again wanting to take out Sienna, but only because she’s in the way this time. There’s a lot of death and destruction, but no real, tangible way to deal with the consequences of the actions that our characters take.
Again, a lot of the other characters like Zack, for instance, feel extremely one dimensional. They don’t have a lot going for them. Human, beat up, boyfriend etc. There’s not a lot of character development, or development to make you want to care for these characters.
Soulless – In this one, I do think the writing improves a bit. There’s more storyline, there’s more development and characters, and finally some progress on the longer story arc. But it was very predictable. We see chapters from the POV of “someone else” that I felt was quite obvious who that person was. We also see how easy it is to manipulate Sienna through her aunt Charlie, and a guy called James. I won’t put in spoilers as it’s not fair if you intend to read the series.
So… would I read the rest of the series? No. Well, I wouldn’t pay for them, that’s for sure. At times I did feel like I was reading some X-Men fanfiction, and at other times I thought that it was ridiculous. This is one of those series that you would enjoy if you liked to have lots of action scenes, and not a lot of consequences – for example – girl spends years trapped in her home, not able to leave, not able to have friends, her mother the only company she ever has. Her mother trains her in martial arts, schools her, beats her up a fair bit too. If Sienna disobeys the “rules” she gets put in a metal box, sometimes for a week, without being let out. She doesn’t come out of that damaged – and that would damage someone that would need years of therapy to get over. Nope. We have no consequences to that sort of thing.
These are good if you want a light read that requires not a lot of effort in the long run. I’ll leave the series here though.
Have you read this series? What did you think?