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The Colours of Carol Molev

by Beth Goobie

Never mind “La Vie en Rose”: in Beth Goobie’s latest novel for young adults, the protagonist sees the world in one overwhelming hue after another. When 16-year-old Carol Molev begins to tune out of reality and into the energy zones of the brilliant colours that swirl around her, she is terrified. Then she discovers that she can connect to her brother’s energy when he’s playing hockey, and to her boyfriend during her sexual fantasies, and the colours seem all right. But soon she discovers that everyone is capable of experiencing these paranormal colours, sometimes as auras and other times as malevolent gods who “suck off” the energy of humans. She realizes that she is being used by her brother and boyfriend, who have also become succubi of sorts. And because Carol has more colours than other people, she begins to attract a lot of unwanted attention. Somehow, Carol must reclaim her energies to avoid becoming the next sacrificial victim to the insatiable gods.

There is enough tension in this book to sustain a lively pace, particularly in the last third, as Carol realizes the full extent of her danger and is forced to take action. A number of fascinating ideas are grazed, including individuation, fatalism, the price of conformity, the possibilities of synergy between people, and matter as energy. None of these terms appears in the novel, which is fine, although the vocabulary sorely needs more variety and sophistication. The real problem is that none of these ideas are satisfactorily developed. Instead, they drift in and out of the narrative like the colours in the characters’ minds without forming a coherent theme. You might describe this book as a patchwork of disparate ideas with a clear motif of self-esteem at its centre, but the edges are frayed and there are too many loose ends. I was left craving more depth and consistency.