Dark Visions: The Strange Power; The Possessed; The Passion

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Dark Visions: The Strange Power; The Possessed; The Passion Book Poster Image
A whole lot more boy drama than teen psychic thriller.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Lots of teamwork displayed among the "mind mates" (teens linked telepathically). Plus much talk about what's good and evil and overcoming those who are out to hurt people with their psychic gifts.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kait comes into her own by the end of the trilogy -- she's not out to be rescued by boyfriends anymore, finding her inner strength. But she still plays the rescuer, going after the angry, interesting boy in hopes of making him "good" again. Anna, Rob, and Lee are all positive characters who look out for one another. The evil Mr. Zetes has an opulent home and tempts psychic students with riches.


More "psychic attacks" than actual physical ones, where deaths of minor characters are mentioned, but the main character is physically attacked once by a drifter who follows her off a late-night bus. A sensory deprivation chamber is used against psychic teens, making some mentally unstable, some display violent tendencies, and some appear grotesque. One girl pulls another out of the shower, and they briefly fight. One character ends up in a coma.


Plenty of kissing in the love triangle, but not much else -- surprising since teens live together and travel together throughout the trilogy. But when one character sucks the psychic energy out of another, the description is rather sexual in nature.


Very mild. A "damn" or two.


A small sprinkling of brands: Coke, Glamour magazine, McDonald's, Taco Bell, Captain Crunch, Liz Claiborne, Anne Klein, plus a Macy's shopping trip.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Passing mentions that the "bad" psychics are off drinking and smoking. One scene in a night club. Mr. Zetes offers a teen a drink at his home.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this psychic teen romance is much, much milder than the author's Vampire Diaries series. There's a love triangle with lots of kissing (and an energy-draining process that seems rather sexual), one teen is attacked by a drifter and saved, and some teens fall into madness under the effects of an evil psychic crystal. A few minor characters die from far-off "psychic attacks" that are barely described.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byApril R. February 4, 2016

Fast Paced

This paced YA read, there are A LOT of characters, so you have to work to keep up. I was disappointed that i had to wait so long for the finale to come out and... Continue reading
Parent of a 3-year-old Written byFaerieTears May 28, 2010

Great :)

I've owned this book since I was probably an 8th grader. I re-read it every few years. The characters are cool and enjoyable. The plot is different. The vi... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bybellapep December 1, 2016

Decently written novel

Despite some negative reviews, i feel that this book does not get the credit it deserves. As an artist I really appreciate the small details of Kait's draw... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 9, 2011

Awesome book!!!

This book was great!!!! It was so intense. At times, it could have gotten a little kissy and stuff like that, but, a 12 year old kid can handle that. Two boys c... Continue reading

What's the story?

When Kait is offered the chance to develop her psychic gifts at an institute in San Francisco, she jumps at the chance. She's one of five teens chosen by Mr. Zetes -- a mysterious, rich, powerful man with the requisite number of guard dogs and evil secrets. It doesn't take long for the five -- Kait, Rob, Anna, Lewis, and Gabriel -- to raid Zetes' secret files and get a sense of his evil deeds; turns out the first wave of teen subjects didn't fare so well in the presence of a crystal that enhances powers ... at the price. In the second of the trilogy, The Possessed, the fivesome goes north in search of a good, healing crystal to combat Zetes. The third story in the trilogy, The Passion, finds Gabriel going to work for Zetes and Kait going in after him as a spy. She and Rob are an item, but there's something about moody Gabriel that's just too tempting to ignore.

Is it any good?

It's hard to figure out what makes this a bestseller. It's probably just because the author wrote The Vampire Diaries and the three-in-one set is a bargain at $9.99. Sure, the ideas are intriguing -- and when the five psychics get mind-linked, that's a fun touch -- but the writing isn't worth 700+ pages of anyone's time.

If you're in it for the romance, yeah, Kait gets whomever she decides to go after. But Rob is such a wooden character that he makes Gabriel much more appealing by comparison; it's no wonder which way Kait's head turns. If you're in it for the fantasy, there are many better options out there, none of them centering on a hokey crystal.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes or breaks a fantasy-romance. How could this really long read have been better? What are your favorite fantasy-romances?

  • If you could have a psychic power like the teens in this book, what would it be? Would you trade some sanity for more power, or not?

  • What do you think of Kait's tempation to go for the "bad boy"? Do you think she could really change him and get him to open up to her? How hard is it to change a person?

Book details

  • Author: L. J. Smith
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • Publication date: September 8, 2009
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
  • Number of pages: 752
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy and romance

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