Gasp: Visions, Book 3

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
Gasp: Visions, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Teens race to avert disaster in thrilling Visions finale.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

Readers will learn a bit about Lake Michigan and the surrounding area's geography. The protagonists (some in college, some in high school) spend more time cutting class than going to school in this fast-moving adventure, but they also put the skills they've learned in class to work as they try to avert the next disaster.

Positive messages

Strong messages about courage, perseverance, resourcefulness, friendship, family -- and knowing when breaking the rules is the right thing to do. Also: When hormones are raging, listen to your brain as well as your body. Look out for strangers as well as your own loved ones. There's a strong diversity message; the band of heroes includes gay and straight characters who come from Italian-, Filipino-, and African-American families, and their various talents and skills are essential to the group effort.

Positive role models & representations

Whether they're dealing with raging hormones or first-love angst or heading off the next disaster, teen protagonists Jules and Sawyer show courage (for example, Sawyer is forced to face his lifelong terror of drowning) and good sense (most of the clothing stays on in some intense make-out scenes, and they choose not to have sex). Jules and her siblings bicker constantly and have evading authority down to a science (their sister Rowan is the most skilled at pretending to be their mom when calling the school to claim they're sick), but they, along with love interests Sawyer and Ben, always have one another's back, and they all have strong moral compasses that won't let them shrug off impending peril to strangers.

Violence

There's little violence per se, but several characters are still dealing with the aftermath of Book 2's school shooting, including one character who's in the hospital recuperating throughout Book 3. The catastrophe the teens are trying to avert involves a sinking ferryboat, scenes of which appear to one of the characters with frightening intensity, including huge waves and people falling into the water. A family loses their home, their business, and all their possessions in a fire.

Sex

None of the characters is sexually active, though there are intense romances, gay and straight, in progress, with plenty of kissing. Jules and Sawyer have a couple of steamy make-out scenes but manage to stay clothed. Jules says, "I don't know for sure what's happening at first, but even though I'm not an anatomy expert, I think I have an idea." In this and related areas, they show good common sense and concern for their future. Jules talks about her brain overruling her body and about having a girl-crush on Sawyer's hip, tattooed older cousin Kate, who's taken him in after he flees his abusive father. There's some bawdy but not explicit humor about the guys' "packages" and "junk."

Language

Abundant use of "s--t" and "f--k" and occasional "boob" and "douche."

Consumerism

The Jose Cuervo billboard where Jules first saw visions makes a brief appearance. Occasional mentions of products during scene-setting: Clue Junior, Sea-Doo, Burger King, OnStar.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gasp is the third book in popular author Lisa McMann's Visions series, following Crash and Bang. It brings the trilogy to a satisfying close with a fast-moving plot, appealingly believable characters, suspense, and moral quandaries. As in the previous installments, there's lots of typical teen profanity ("s--t," "f--k," and "douche," for example) and a couple of steamy make-out scenes. Many of the teens' choices (such as cutting school to travel to another city and getting caught up in a maritime disaster) would terrify any parent, but it's all part of their heroic efforts to save victims of a future catastrophe. Amid the hormones, teen angst, and affectionate sibling bickering, there are more adult issues: A long-ago affair involving some parents still affects their children; Sawyer has fled a father who beats him; and Jules' father suffers from depression and has become a hoarder. A family loses everything in a fire, and the teens aren't quick enough to prevent people from dying of carbon monoxide poisoning.

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What's the story?

Scions of warring pizza dynasties in the Chicago suburbs, Jules DeMarco and Sawyer Angotti would like to be normal teens in love, but they know the "vision curse" that struck them with vivid previews of deadly disasters has moved to one of the survivors of their last adventure, and they have to be there to help. So do Jules' siblings, Trey and Rowan, along with Trey's new love interest, Ben. As they try to save the next round of unknown victims, the teens face other challenges, from a house fire to lifelong personal terrors.

Is it any good?

The looming peril, well-paced revelations, lively plot, problem-solving challenges, race against the clock -- and Jules' appealing sense of humor -- will keep readers riveted.

We'd strongly recommend reading the first two books in the Visions series before GASP so you're familiar with the characters and issues. In various plot threads, the characters come into their own, in romantic relationships and in crucial decision-making. As in the previous books, they use a fair amount of crude language; a couple of make-out scenes don't use explicit language but are still pretty vivid.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why stories about being able to see the future and prevent disasters from happening are so popular. Do you have any favorites? How does the Visions series compare?

  • Do you find Gasp believable, in the sense that you can imagine something similar involving your friends or family? How might that go? How would the different people make the story different?

  • Would you find it hard to go back to your normal life after having a heroic adventure? Why, or why not?

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