I started reading this series for two reasons. One, the covers are amazing. Seriously, look at all three of them. The covers hooked me and made me squirm with possibilities. Yes, I’m a sucker for a good cover.
Two, I’m pretty sure the virtual box set was on sale and I saw an ad for it. I say that because if Susan Kaye Quinn happens by I want her to know that the sale, and the ad, worked. I’d never heard of her until I saw the ad, with that cover, and clicked the link which brought me to the sale. Of course I read the description too which was enough to pull me the rest of the way into the boat.
So how is the story? Fascinating. Gripping. Exciting. How many other -ing words can I come up with? Too many, so let me give you some details. This is YA science fiction, set in the not-too-distant future. Society has changed a lot, due to all those drugs and chemicals we dump into the water without thinking. It messed with people’s minds and made everyone into mindreaders. That’s right, everyone can read each other’s thoughts. Constantly. Can you imagine? I think I’d go insane.
On the one hand, how cool would it be to have that sort of communiction but on the other hand, do you really want to know exactly what the person next to you on the bus is thinking about your outfit, your hair, your face or your body odor? Some things are better left un-communicated.
Society has adapted to the new way of life to the point where anyone who can’t mind read is a zero. A nothing. Less than dirt. A sub-citizen not to be trusted. So what happens when evolution steps it up a notch and some people can guard their own mind while being able to “jack” into someone else’s? What happens when some people can control other people’s thoughts, rather than just reading them? That, my friends, is what this trilogy is about. Change, and society’s reaction to it, with a dose of mind powers. The story centers around one girl who starts out a zero and ends up a leader of the revolution to bring equal rights to everyone, even those with scary mind talents.
There’s a ton of social commentary going on here, but beyond that it’s a solid story with good pacing and a heroine I rooted for the entire way. She’s smart, and trying to save her family and friends and change the world while dealing with changing hormones.
“A zero like me shouldn’t take public transportation.
The hunched driver wrinkled a frown before I even got on the bus. Her attempt to read my mind would get her nothing but the quiet of the street corner where I stood. I kept my face neutral. Nobody trusted a zero to begin with, but scowling back would only make the driver more suspicious.
I gripped my backpack and gym bag tighter and climbed the grime-coated steps. The driver’s mental command whooshed the door closed behind me. Yeah, junior year was off toa fantastic start already.”
Look at all the wonderful things happening in the first couple of paragraphs! We know she’s in high school, we know the world is very different from ours, and we know she’s an outcast. The bus driver can read minds, but can’t read our protagonists? Oh, yes, I’m hooked. I was hooked by the first sentence. It engaged, delighted, intrigued, and insisted I read on. That’s a lot to pack into such a short sentence. And this was just the first book.
I didn’t even pause between book one and two, and I barely took a breath between book two and three. To me, this was one long story that I loved from beginning to end. The world building is rich and full of detail but not overly done. It all made perfect sense to me. The fear of change or anything new, the distrust of anything unknown, the need to quarantine or neutralize the perceived danger from the unknown rather than understanding it…that all fit with what I know of our society today. I think you could remove the mindreading and insert any other societal norm you like and still have a solid story. But it wouldn’t be nearly as fun, because I found the whole mind reading/mind jacking world fascinating.
This story feels a lot like The Hunger Games, without the starvation or forced tournament to the death. If you like realistic light science fiction give this a try. Get the boxed set, because you won’t want to stop once you get started.