WARNING: This book contains torture, rape, and child abuse and it will be discussed in this review.
Now that we got that bit of unsettling foreshadowing out of the way let’s get down to business. Plexi: Adversity by Kwame Opeyo is a fantasy novel that tries really hard to be so many things, and fails at all of them. The story primarily follows the adventures of three magical teenagers who need to fight evil demonic entities from alternate dimensions, as well as their evil classmates. Also, there’s a ‘cop gone rogue’ storyline thrown in for everyone who’s ever thought “You know what Harry Potter was missing? Law and Order: SVU”.
To start with the cast of characters really doesn’t come with much depth of personality or motivation. Plexi and her friends Mona and Yingjie are all teenagers at a pretty normal American magical high school, except Plexi is incredibly talented at magic. She is also an excellent fighter, amazing at calculations, makes ‘witty’ remarks, and always does what’s right. So a textbook boring Mary Sue. Mona’s major purpose seems to be the victim of the group. In every encounter with the bad guys she’s one of the first to get taken out and is always tortured with the exact same spell. Always. Yingjie is supposed to be the comedic relief and the butt of friendly jokes, but mostly he just comes off as really dumb. And let’s not forget the super powerful mentor named Glorious, this story’s discount Dumbledore character.
Their major motivation is to defeat the bad guys because… no one else can apparently? There are some glaring plot-holes which make this untrue, if this trio of teenagers had gone to the authorities or even their parents for help it would have ruined the plans of the evil-demonic forces within a few days. It also would have saved them from severe injuries on multiple occasions, including a broken spine at one point. Luckily magic heals everything super quick and these teenagers seem to be immune to any trauma that would be caused by all the severe injuries and torture they endure. Going to the authorities would have also saved thousands from gruesome deaths, economic upheaval, and billions in damage, but why have a logical plot when you can write unnecessary scenes of gory torture, rape, and murder instead.
Seriously there is incestuous rape, child rape, torture, murder, and it’s all completely unnecessary. The only reason all of this seems to be included is to show that the bad guys are pure evil. That’s it. The bad guys like to do evil things and that’s why they’re evil. Swiper from Dora the Explorer had more character depth than this group of baddies.
They are literally described as vile, disgusting, and evil, even by themselves. Their only motivation is to create chaos, gain power, and cause misery. That’s it, they’re just all bad people and it’s never explained why. Also the main evil villain is named T’navreskrad, and he likes to change his appearance often. Sometimes he looks like a pus-filled demonic ogre, and sometimes he’s a cloven-foot horned devil. Just in case it wasn’t clear that he was super-duper evil.
The story takes place in America but with magic slapped on because world-building is hard I guess. Seriously though, the majority of the world uses magic more than technology, but somehow the course of humanity has not changed much. People still go to the movies, drive cars, go to high school, and there are police institutions that are pretty much identical to the real ones. The only difference is that everything either has a magical equivalent (you can have a car OR a magical mount like a dragon) or has magic aggressively glued onto it without much thought (when your house is on fire a fire dragon puts it out instead of a fire truck).
America still exists with the same state names, which doesn’t make sense because not a single character has a typical American name. Most are two syllable names like Plexi, Mona, Zarin, Poli, etc. This means one of two things:
- The United States was colonized by non-Europeans who named all the geographic locations the exact same (Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, etc.) and even drew state lines in the same way, implying they experienced the same history despite coming from a completely different cultural and economic background. This would be a problem even without magic thrown in to make things even more different from the real world.
- The United States was colonized by Europeans who went through the exact same history as the real United States despite having magic as a part of their daily lives. And for no apparent reason European names all went out of fashion sometime between 1776 and the modern day.
I haven’t even touched on how ridiculous the magic system is yet. How the magic is conjured is only ever described as ‘vague gestures and hand movements’. This is how a police officer performing a spell is depicted at one point:
“The officer moved his arms and body in the rhythms necessary to access the spirit of Earth’s gravity”.
It sounds like he could be doing anything from picking his nose to breakdancing. And this is how all magic is described throughout the book. Vague gestures then lights in bright colours appear to show magic is happening. Also the magic being performed has incredibly original names like ‘mystical ice’, ‘mystical fire’, and ‘mystical shields’. Overall the magic system is just as sloppy and lazy as the characters and the plot.
There were some other major flaws in the book like constant never-ending exposition, how tone-deaf the story was, and how repetitive the fight scenes were, but I think I’ve gotten my point across. As a huge fan of the fantasy genre I would warn other fantasy fans from reading this book and look elsewhere for their YA fantasy needs.
Plexi: Adversity by Kwame Opeyo
By Kwame Opeyo
A world of magic and technology is in peril. Mystically empowered teenagers Plexi Solaris, Mona Deluvius and Yingjie Iffing stand in the path of evil. The powerful wizard T’navreskrad from another dimension manipulates the twins Zarin and Yarin Darsus from Plexi’s world into opening a dimension rift which he passes through to launch an invasion. Plexi and her group enlist the aid of a high-grade wizard from their own world to aid in combating this evil. A battle of mystical forces ensues with casualties on both sides, resulting in an apparent victory by Plexi and her friends. Unbeknownst to them though, the invading wizard engineered the battle as a smoke screen to conceal a hidden agenda.