Mayhem by Estelle Laure is a send up to the 80’s with a story about feminism and powerful versus powerless. This story is a mash up of plots from 80’s and 90’s movie plots Lost Boys, Sleeping with the Enemy, and The Craft. The results should be amazing but instead a lot of formulaic plot with with ideas on feminism throughout that only take root at the end. The powers are all over the place with some history to back it up but not enough. I was really thrown off about the author having two fictional characters of the Frog Brothers from the movie the Lost Boys inserted in the plot to do nothing other than make you think the plot was going to be about vampires, which it is not. I feel I would have liked this story more if it wasn’t about gaining special powers and it was about a girl finding her internal strength to stand up to abuse. Thanks to St. Martin Publishing for sending me a copy for review through Netgalley.
The Plot: Mayhem, a 16 year old girl, also referred to as May, is traveling with her mom, Roxy, to Santa Maria looking for a fresh start, after taking years of abuse from her husband, Lyle. Lyle turned his abuse from Roxy to Mayhem, which was the final straw. They end up moving into the Brayburn home with Roxy’s sister Elle who has three adopted kids of her own, Neve and Jason are Mayhem’s age and Kidd is 9. Roxy fears something but May can’t pull it out of her, May thinks this is for the best and wants her mom safe and to detox the drugs she has been taking to cope with the abuse out of her system. Mayhem loves the small costal town of Santa Maria, the beach the ongoing carnival, but there is a dark side, women have been banishing on the beach night after night. Mayhem feels sorry for them and feels something more a feeling she has never felt before she has to swim to get rid of it, and feels herself drawn to something in the water. The adopted kids take her to a cave with a deep history rooted to the Brayburn’s Mayhem drinks the sacred water and develops powers.
What I Liked: I loved the character of Kidd how she balances sweet with ferocious. I liked reading about the Brayburn history, I felt this section could have been expanded. The cave and the water and the origin surrounding it were really interesting. Marcy and the video store called VHYes. I liked the majority of 80’s references. Mayhem as a character before the water I liked a lot, after the water I was a little lost more on the power than emotional aspect. I liked the thirst for the sacred water making them vampire light. I like where Neve’s character ended up, I would’ve liked to see her character progress this way the whole book, and not at the final moment.
What I Disliked: Having the Frog Brothers not do anything, if you bring iconic characters into your world have them do something. The powers were not explained well at all.
Recommendations: I will not recommend this one, I feel there are plenty of original Young Adult that take this story and make it original. There are some bright spots in the ways of speaking about a woman’s power, but they were few and far between. I wanted to like this one a whole lot more, just didn’t work for me. I Rated Mayhem by Estelle Laure 2 out of 5 stars.