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Linked Hardcover – June 11, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7-9–Sekoia, once a toxic planet poisoned by an accident, has triumphed over its past. Thanks to breakthroughs in hyperspeed superfuel research, which led to a profitable interplanetary transport industry, it appears to be a place of science, charity, prosperity, and peace. But Sekoia has a darker side. When Elissa falls asleep, she dreams of “white-masked people, needles and syringes, huge humming machines,” and she wakes up screaming from white-hot pain. Then one night she dreams of a building on fire and of running barefoot, climbing over barbed wire to escape and slicing her arm open. A doctor says Elissa's brain is overactive and recommends surgery, but she can feel the pain in her arm where the barbed wire cut the skin. While watching the news, Elissa sees pictures of the building from her dream on fire. If that part is real, maybe everything else is, too. On a hunch, she follows her instincts and goes out searching. She eventually finds a girl who looks just like her, was born with her, but isn't considered human. She's a Spare. Separated at birth, Spares and their human counterparts have a mental connection that most lose naturally over time. Elissa and her Spare, Lin, seem to have deepened theirs. Lin has escaped the government facility where she was being held and used for experimentation, and Elissa can't bear the thought of her being recaptured and tortured again. The only way to keep Lin safe, though, is to get off Sekoia and become an interplanetary fugitive. Can Elissa sacrifice everything for this girl she's just met? This novel is a page-turner from beginning to end. The action-packed plot is well written and unique, with nicely developed main and secondary characters. Though there is a touch of romance, it's not the story's focus and doesn't overwhelm other aspects of the plot. Fans of Chris Howard's Rootless (Scholastic, 2012) and Veronica Roth's Divergent (HarperCollins, 2011) will enjoy this thrilling novel.–Heather E. Miller Cover, Homewood Public Library, ALα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Three years ago Lissa had everything: popularity, looks, and a bright future. Now she is the weird freak scheduled for minor brain surgery to cure the phantom pain and hallucinations she keeps having. They’re hallucinations of being somewhere else and of being someone else. Then she discovers that she has a Spare, a twin who has been an experimental subject in a secret government facility for years, and that her pains weren’t phantom after all. Lin, who has electrokinetic and telepathic abilities, escapes the facility and finds Lissa. Together, they run for their lives, and when nowhere is safe, they buy passage on a ship right out into space itself. Cadan, the ship’s captain, is Lissa’s brother’s best friend, and Lissa’s buried feelings for him only complicate matters. Howson uses crisp, cinematic writing; high-octane action adventure (complete with deep-space battles); and several unexpectedly shocking twists to explore moral dilemmas that often come with speculative fiction. Sekoia is a three-dimensional world with quirky details and a fascinating history, and the characters are well-developed and believably flawed. Sparked with danger and tinged with romance, this is a roller-coaster ride into space that just about everyone should enjoy. Grades 7-12. --Charli Osborne
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But this one is different. My heart was racing through the first 100 pages. The chase scenes are so close to "normal life" (kids freaking out, skipping school in a mall, chased by cops...that might kill them) that they are actually really scary. Precisely because the story feels so real and human and ordinary (despite being science fiction), it is far more gripping than most novels in this genre.
Also, the characterization is spot-on. Elissa is not some non-descript romantically-successful container for teens to slip their vicarious self into, and she isn't some perfect ninja who is hopelessly perfect. She's extremely real--a tad proud, loving, disillusioned, easily flattered, confused, a mix of brave and cowardly, insecure and true to her own sense of what is good&bad. She is just so normal. Even the minor side characters are all fully-developed and extremely real---as I met each of them, I could name people I know who were just that way.
Probably because of the strong characterization, the book can be quite hilarious at moments (there is a pivotal scene where one character goes off into an ill-timed moral/political rant and everyone else tries to shut him up.)
But by far, the character that steals your heart is the victimized, slightly psychopathic (yet also wide-eyed innocent) character. I teared up nearly every time she spoke. That relationship is what made the book for me, it was golden, and very real. Granted, I'm an identical twin myself, and I have to say that Imogen Howson sure nailed the dynamics of that relationship.
Also, in an indirect way, the book brings up a host of thought-provoking issues about violence & family & loyalty & guilt & being human, without ever becoming ponderous or self-conscious or taking itself too seriously. This is what The Hunger Games should have been. If you are a young teen, I can tell you this is the sort of book that you will still love twenty years from now. It's that good.
The conflict between the twins about Lin’s lack of humanity or regard for humanity also throws in a new component. Normally if there are two main characters, they somehow automatically trust and understand each other. But with Lissa and Lin, they don’t automatically agree on everything and the conflict shows just how human these ‘spares’ can be.
I will admit to being slightly frustrated with the random romance that seems thrown in at the last moment. I feel like Howson could’ve waited on that and made it a component in the next book, rather than establishing it now. There would be a better payoff once they finally got together, you know? But, such is life in YA. You must have a romance or no one will read it apparently.
Overall, I would definitely suggest reading this one. It was quite enjoyable, I even stopped surfing YouTube to read it haha.
Most recent customer reviews
I am going to start off by saying that the cover is beautiful. I thought this book was amazing, I couldn't put it down!Read more