From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Nothing is going to distract high school student Keira from practicing her piano. After all, it is her talent that is going to get her out of her dead-end hometown and into Julliard. So when handsome Walker starts to work at the music store Keira frequents, she tries to keep her distance. When she begins to experience hallucinations, she is afraid that she might be going crazy. Then she begins to unravel the truth. Her hallucinations are really portals into a parallel universe called Darkside. She realizes that her musical ability has life-and-death implications and that Walker is not who he seems to be. The plot is complex, but nimbly handled. The backstories of Keira's quarreling parents, her alienated BFF, and her long-dead uncle are interspersed with the tormented reality of Darkside. Thrown into the mix is the gentle development of romance between Keira and Walker. Descriptive passages are imaginative and evocative. Keira's hallucinations-Walker's moving tattoo, the solitary door in the middle of the road, dark trees growing in the living room-come across as believable but unnerving disturbances in an otherwise normal life. The dialogue rings true, particularly the easy, relaxed conversations between Keira and her best friend. The only downside is that the rising action takes a long time to unfold. Keira does not discover that the hallucinations are real until more than halfway into the story. Still, the slow beginning gives way to a crackerjack middle and end. There are hints of a sequel.-Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Library, NCα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Pianist Keira Brannon is determined to let nothing deter her from enrolling in Juilliard, thus escaping Sherwin, Maine, and her dull existence. But once she meets Walker, her goals seem less important. Their attraction is immediate but somewhat unnerving once Keira realizes that when Walker touches her, she begins to hallucinate. Tattoos crawl around Walker’s biceps; dark forest hovers over his shoulders. Gradually Walker draws her into another world, one that is terrifying and life threatening. Johnson explores a rather unusual topic, even for YA science fiction—dark matter, dark energy, and the possibility of an alternate universe. In the alternative universe from which Walker tries to protect Keira, all music has been lost. But Keira, an “experimental” cross between a darkling father and a human mother, can either save the Dark Side through her music or be assassinated as a failed experiment. This is an interesting amalgam: a lusty romance made more so by its self-imposed repressed desire, a nod to astrophysics and the theory of dark matter, and a suspenseful adventure into another world, all grounded in references to classical piano repertoire. Grades 8-12, --Frances Bradburn