“I’ve Been…Exacting Instant Karma on People” | Reacting to INSTANT KARMA | Marissa Meyer


Spoiler warning: This blog contains spoilers for Instant Karma (Feiwel & Friends, 2020) by Marissa Meyer.

What would you do if you could exact karma onto others?

I had never considered or even wished to have this type of power. But when I came across this book, I was intrigued by simply reading the title. I started to consider what I would do if I could possess such power. If I’m being honest, I would most likely act out of impulse and try and punish people out of anger for minor things, like a neighbor blasting music on a school night when I’m supposed to wake up early the next day to sit at my desk for 7 hours straight. I soon realized how dangerous it can be. Why should I be the one able to exact karma onto others, good or bad? I’ve always believed that if I wish bad onto others it’ll come back to me.

After suffering a minor head injury after singing karaoke, Prudence Barnett quickly realizes that the universe has given her this power. Initially I, like Prudence, thought that she could only exact bad karma onto those who committed wrongdoings, like a customer telling off a food service employee, or Maya Livingstone (the girl Prudence’s twin brother has a crush on) and her friends for making fun of him. However, both Prudence and I were proven wrong. She can also reward those who do good deeds. 

I appreciate that Marissa Meyer explores the cons of possessing this power and that Prudence quickly realizes that punishing Maya, by having her lose one of her late grandmother’s earrings, was a mistake. It soon backfires and puts Prudence in a difficult situation. I will admit that if I was in Prudence’s place, I would’ve exacted karma onto others without thinking twice about it. And this is perhaps why no one is equipped to possess this power but the universe. I liked that in the end, Prudence’s power taught her not to be so quick to judge and punish others.

But her power didn’t work on Quint Erickson, her biology class partner, quite how she hoped.  

Prudence isn’t very fond of Quint and thinks he is lazy, irresponsible, and unpunctual. After presenting their semester project and receiving a disappointing grade for their lack of collaboration, Prudence is determined to redo the project with or without Quint’s help. When Prudence finally decides to read the report Quint wrote as she searches for mistakes, she discovers that the Fortuna Beach Sea Animal Rescue Center that he wouldn’t stop mentioning is a real place. She decides to give the rescue center a visit and soon finds out that Quint’s mother is the founder and owner and that he has been a volunteer there for years. Prudence decides to become a volunteer and use it to her advantage to get a better grade for the project. However, there is one thing she isn’t too happy about: Quint is going to train her.

I was excited and intrigued that both had to collaborate again and that when she tries to exact karma on Quint, he instead gets rewarded with a twenty-dollar bill. Prudence feels betrayed by the universe and annoyed that her power didn’t work to punish him. I like that even though she has this power, the universe still has some control over who can be punished, as it should be. I enjoyed following Prudence and Quint’s growth from enemies to friends, which later turns into an attraction for each other. I appreciate that Meyer didn’t rush both characters into a relationship in the first few chapters and instead focused on having them learn to work as a team throughout the story. I was glad that Prudence learned how committed and passionate Quint is about the work he does and that he realized Prudence isn’t selfish and judgmental like he thought. I was so excited when they finally confessed their feelings for each other; it was definitely worth the wait. Overall, Instant Karma is the perfect balance of romance and conflict and left me satisfied. 

PRR Writer, Karyme Cuadras

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