The Girl Who Commanded Lightning

Lightning Brain Series (Book 3)

Romance - Contemporary
601 Pages
Reviewed on 02/23/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite

The Girl Who Commanded Lightning is the third novel in the Lightning Brain Series by Cliff Ratza. Electra was stuck in limbo once more. She had been exposed to the T-Plague, and her brain couldn't cope. To the horror of her friends, Electra was in a coma with the disease slowly but surely affecting her. The only way to revive her was to use an untested antidote, and they took the risk. It paid off but came at a cost. Electra had amnesia and woke up with a completely different personality. She identified herself as Alisha and was quite different from the brilliant Electra. Carter, Robin, and the others didn’t have much time, as the world was crumbling under the pressure of the T-plague and with the cyberspace terror group ready to strike at any moment. Would Electra break through the barrier of her mind, or would Alisha have to buckle up and fill some big shoes?

Although I haven’t read the previous novels in the series, I had no issues with forming a connection with Electra/Alisha and falling in love with the story. The tale was intense, and the author introduced action from the first sentence. I loved the contrast between Electra and Alisha, as they were as different as night and day. However, they both had the same fire to do better, do more, and improve. The Girl Who Commanded Lightning has a sense of urgency and that made it even more entertaining. The pace was fast, the action was intense, and the descriptions were fantastic. There was never a moment when the action stopped. I loved how Robin kept everyone on their toes in Electra’s absence. The chapters were long but worthwhile. I would highly recommend this series by Cliff Ratza to fans of urban fantasy.

K.C. Finn

The Girl Who Commanded Lightning is a work of fiction in the thriller, adventure, and contemporary romance subgenres. It forms the third novel of the Lightning Brain Series of adventures and is best suited to mature young adult and adult readers. Penned by author Cliff Ratza, this latest installment in the life and exploits of protagonist Electra Kittner sees everything we know about her challenged when she is woken from a coma by a shocking experimental treatment. Without her memory, Electra believes herself to be Alisha, but this brand new approach to battling the T-plague is not what the rest of the world needs right now. Will Electra return to her senses in time, or will Alisha’s unorthodox approach prove useful after all?

Author Cliff Ratza knows how to amp up the uncertainty and adrenaline in a series at its crucial mid-point by literally rewriting the rulebook on our central heroine and everything we could expect from her. One of the things I especially enjoyed was the narrative shift, which continues to instill in you all the confidence of Ratza’s engaging prose, exposition, and description, but a new layer of emotion, mystery, and drama has been added to the tale. He has done this by retelling it with a protagonist we don’t know how to trust or accept initially. It’s a clever angle that revisits all we know about the fantastic worldbuilding, all while the tension of the T-plague builds wonderfully in the background. Overall, I would recommend The Girl Who Commanded Lightning to fans of the existing series and to action-thriller fans who are looking for their next spine-tingling speculative adventure.

Vincent Dublado

The Girl Who Commanded Lightning by Cliff Ratza is the third installment in the Lightning Brain Series. As Electra lies in a coma, she gets into another life-threatening situation after being exposed to a new strain of the T-plague. Wanting her to regain consciousness, her friends inject her with an unproven antidote. She does manage to wake up but she suffers from amnesia and, in return, insists on being called Alisha. Alisha becomes an alternate persona of Electra. While Alisha has her qualities, she feels that she can't match up to Electra. As the T-plague continues to take lives, plus an international cyber-terrorist group preying on cyber-security, Alisha may not be up to the task of saving the day. Moreover, she worries about what would become of her if Electra returns, and she can only hope that the lightning brain will keep her around.

The main joy in this third installment is the way its page-turning narrative unfolds. Electra is a superhero who is still very relatable as she cannot do things alone and needs help. Her weaknesses are what makes her interesting and Cliff Ratza doesn’t seem to run out of ideas on how to bank on Electra’s quirks to add more exciting twists to the ongoing storyline. Alisha is an interesting personality by herself, and her part in the novel is very focused as she takes on antagonistic elements that will determine her rightful place in the life of Electra. What works best about Ratza’s story is its strong sense of continuity instead of just setting up something for the sake of a new character. The Girl Who Commanded Lightning has enough excitement and depth to sustain your interest. It’s a must-read.

Jamie Michele

It is often said that one never forgets how to ride a bicycle, but in the case of Electra Kittner and her superpowers, this is only partially true. The Girl Who Commanded Lightning by Cliff Ratza is the third book in the science fiction superhero Lightning Brain Series, preceded by book one, The Girl With the Lightning Brain, and book two, The Girl Who Electrified the World. For those new to the series, protagonist Electra Kittner has been supernaturally smartened and strengthened after a freak electrical accident while she was still in her mother's belly. In this installment, Electra is infected by the Techno Plague which has run rampant throughout the near future world setting but had so far eluded Electra. Electra is rendered comatose, ultimately revived in her body but awakening as an amnesiac. Electra is now Alisha, and Alisha knows nothing but what she reads and learns about her former persona. Alisha is a dominant force in her own right with success in non-Earth saving endeavors, and Electra does eventually resurface, forging a true split personality and an Alisha/Electra alternating dynamic. Still, neither is in top form and the fate of the world still rests on their shoulders.

Just when I thought Cliff Ratza cannot possibly take a creative concept and run it into yet another unique direction, Electra falls into amnesia and returns to become a star football player as Alisha in The Girl Who Commanded Lightning. No, that is not a twist I saw coming. I absolutely loved the retrograde amnesia and how an entirely new character is basically created. The benefit of this that extends beyond the great plot that Ratza once more races us through with tension-filled, pitch-perfect pacing, is that a new character is created and, as a result, a completely new character journey emerges. The development of Alisha levels up Electra, who is already well-established with two books in her back pocket. Their paths diverge but not so far that one is more than an arm's length away from the other. They also share different versions of the same struggle. Alisha is injured as a result of her newfound career and Electra is not at her full fighting strength. Both are on a rather slow and often troubling mend. If I have one complaint it's that I learned a lot more about football than I ever cared to, but given that we are a heartbeat away from the Super Bowl I might be able to watch it this year for more than the commercials. Another excellent installment to the Lightning Brain Series.

Asher Syed

The Girl Who Commanded Lightning: Lightning Brain Series Book 3 by Cliff Ratza continues the science fiction story of Electra Kittner who readers first met in The Girl with the Lightning Brain. While Electra's mom was pregnant with Electra, she was electrocuted, and her daughter was born with advanced physical power and intellect. Electra lives in a futuristic Earth where technology has steamed forward but she is an anomaly among otherwise normal people we'd recognize today. Politically, terrorism is heightened and as one would expect, technology has significantly advanced and plays a role in this. Warfare has become largely tech-centric and a T-plague that impacts cognitive ability has been unleashed. Electra thought she was immune because she dodged it for decades but she isn't, and contracting the plague has life and personality-changing ramifications that the book explores through Electra and her new alter ego, Alisha.

The Girl Who Commanded Lightning by Cliff Ratza touches on a lot of social themes in subplots that, as a 'girl dad,' I appreciated as much as the expected save the world main plot. I thought that the amnesia was presented compassionately along the authentic lines that we see in the Bourne series. It's infuriating how many storylines use amnesia as a convenient plot driver without seeing how misrepresenting it is deeply offensive to people who have really suffered with it. I also thought that having it be the antidote that counteracts Electra's T-plague-induced coma that breeds the amnesia is scientifically plausible since memory loss is a legitimate side effect of both comas and the stimulants that pull a person out of one. The social aspects such as the progression of gender equality and sexual identity that revolve mostly around Alisha are excellent inclusions, and while having Electra and Alisha be able to switch back and forth so the serious Electra can try to save the world and the more extroverted Alisha can look toward Hollywood stardom was fun. Why have only one superstar when you can have two in the same body? Fans of the series will be pleased to know that the cliffhanger ending will be tied up quickly since book four, The Girl Who Cloned Lightning, is already out.