From Publishers Weekly
When Nica Ashley's mother travels to Antarctica for work, Nica is sent to live with her estranged father in the small town of Barrington, Colo., a far cry from the lively overseas locations she's used to, like Bangkok. Barrington is a Stepford community, with a nightly curfew, private security everywhere, and disconcertingly friendly residents. Nica's travels have helped her hone her observation skills, and she soon discovers the town's bizarre secret: nearby Barrington Tech is conducting strange experiments, which somehow imbue Nica and several other teens with superpowers. Forming an unlikely alliance with a peppy cheerleader named Maya, geeky Oliver, and rebellious love interest Jackson, Nica sets out to get to the heart of a mystery that started before she was born, while aware that Bar Tech is ruthlessly hunting those with powers. Though Nica's voice is at times stiff, screenwriter Kruger brings big-screen sensibilities to his debut novel. Comic book tropes, conspiracy theories, intrigue, and romance all come together, fleshed out with memorable characters. Ages 12-up. Agent: Margaret Riley, William Morris Endeavor.
From School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up–Nica Ashley has traveled the world with her journalist mother for most of her 16 years, living in Thailand, India, Chile, and Tanzania. Now her mom insists that she needs stability and sends her to live with her father in Colorado. Everyone in Barrington is ridiculously happy and polite, the entire town seems to be sponsored by a mysterious local business called Bar Tech, and there is a nightly curfew. Classmate and heartthrob Jackson Winters seems to be the only other unhappy curfew breaker around but maybe that is due to his girlfriend's mysterious disappearance. Not living up to her self-proclaimed status as a loner, Nica also befriends Oliver (stereotype geek) and Maya (stereotype cheerleader). Nica, Jackson, Oliver, and Maya all experience extreme physical reactions to an energy “pulse,” and these strange symptoms give them X-Men-type abilities. As they investigate the strange happenings, they come up against the ubiquitous Bar Tech security detail at every stage. The story is not resolved at the conclusion, opening up more questions rather than offering answers. The characters are largely unrealistic, constantly popping out with strange things that a teenager would never say or think (such as Oliver proclaiming that Nica gets “the gold ring” for a correct answer and Nica being able to name the precise make of a handgun because she “watches action movies”). Cringe-worthy phrases like “…as if his eyes had X-ray vision and could see right through me” make the romantic scenes brutal. The skeleton of Nica's story is marginally interesting, but Kruger's amateurish writing gets in the way too much for it to be enjoyed.–Tara Kehoe, Plainsboro Public Library, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.