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One Too (46. Ascending) Kindle Edition
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Lola’s eldest daughter Ariel can see the future—well, actually, alternative futures. Her middle child, daughter Teddie, can travel in the astral plane, leaving her physical body behind while sending her energy body to distant locations. Zane, Lola’s teenage son, has a different talent; he can morph his face and overall appearance to mimic other people. Meanwhile, Lola’s beloved husband Alex can slow down or accelerate his personal experience of time. This makes him a dynamite athlete, as well as helping him get through boring or painful experiences.
A family of superheroes? Hardly. Each of these powers has serious limitations. Sherrie Cronin has succeeded in creating a normal, close knit family who just happen to have talents that just might save the world—but only if they work together, and reach out to other specially-abled individuals around the globe.
In One Too, Sherrie Cronin’s surprisingly believable science fiction novel, the focus is not so much on superhuman powers as on the moral power an individual can bring to bear to fight evil. The fact that Lola and her family have these varied talents is less important than the way they use them. Their opponent is an uncomfortably familiar international news organization, Reel News, dedicated to stirring up conflict for profit. Warren Moore, the CEO of this massively influential company, has assembled a group of male telepaths to help him in this mission. The monads, as he calls them, are well-paid to ferret out stories that can advance Warren’s agenda. They accurately sense and report the fears of the public so the Reel News can amplify and exploit those fears.
As the story opens, Warren tries to use Lola to do just that—to make her pacifism appear ridiculous. However, during the interview, one of his monads recognizes her powerful telepathic capabilities. Warren’s goals shift, becoming far more dangerous to Lola and her family. He will stop at nothing, not even murder, to either eradicate or control Lola and her loosely knit group of fellow telepaths, x0.
I really enjoyed One Too. Although it has many characters, the author manages to make them distinct and sympathetic. Even Warren, the villain, has some positive qualities. The monads vary according to their personalities and the cultures to which they belong. I loved the fact that the heroine was a middle-aged mother of grown kids, not to mention a professional scientist. Both the concept and execution of this novel eschew the genre stereotypes that make many books so depressingly predictable.
I also appreciated the global scope of One Too. Though it begins in Texas, the book takes the reader all the way to South America, and ultimately, to Antarctica. Characters hail from Argentina, from Ireland, from Thailand, from Nigeria, from Turkey, even from Bhutan.
I have only two, relatively minor criticisms of the novel. First, I felt the pacing was too even. The book features a variety of crises, but somehow the narrative flow didn’t make those stand out for me. Though Lola and Alex have a terrifying brush with death near the end of the book, this didn’t seem any more urgent than their earlier, less perilous escapes from the clutches of Warren’s organization. This may be due to the fact that by the end of the book, the reader has become accustomed to the ingenious ways that different characters, with different abilities, pool their talents so that the strength of one offsets the weakness of another. I’d come to expect they’d succeed, so this reduced the tension.
My other concern is that perhaps the author makes her personal political and moral perspective too transparent in this tale. It’s clear from the preface and the afterward in this novel that One Too (which is part of the series 46 Ascending) has a particular agenda. I agree wholeheartedly with Ms. Cronin’s views, but other readers might find the way she wears her political heart on her sleeve to be annoying. It might even be enough to make them put down the book.
I understand that in some sense, the author views this novel as a way of changing the world, if only in a small way. For instance, she is donating a percentage of all sales from the book to Amnesty International (an organization I also try to support). It’s difficult to be subtle about something you believe strongly. Still, from a reader’s perspective, it might be better to make the messages a bit less obvious.
“One Too” by Sherrie Cronin follows the Zeitman family and their colleagues as they engage in a struggle that will have long-lasting repercussions on both telepaths and non-psychic individuals. The conflict is global in scope and will require not only using resources from all over the world but a great deal of soul-searching and courage and moral fortitude to do what is right rather than what is easy.
First, it will probably require perseverance to get through the introduction and initial chapters. There is a list of the main characters in the back to help one if the onslaught of names gets overwhelming. Second, there are a lot of perspectives and locations to deal with in this third person omniscient style of writing and one almost needs a diagram to figure out who is where and how each person is linked to the overall conflict. Since this is the end of a series, although it is possible to read this as a stand-alone tale it’s probably not the best way to meet all of these folks. Some of the science gets pretty esoteric (I should have been warned by the mathematical formulae including the inclusion of a variation of Euler’s formula, and the unique titles for each of the previous books, lol) and I was afraid that I was going to have to cope with dull philosophical treatises, but the action and the creativity started to pull me in.
Despite some of these drawbacks I still enjoyed the story immensely, once I started figuring out who was on which side and learned some of the backstory. Some of the story felt like a heavy-handed syllogism, particularly with its parallels to current events, but the individuality of the characters and their abilities and the chess match of moves and countermoves was fun to follow, particularly as I am fascinated by the concept of psychic powers. I like that the story is both an exciting adventure story but also a wake-up call as it explores the dangers of a monopoly as well as the conflict between those who would exploit a power and those who see it as a resource to be used for the greater good of all humanity. It would have been nice to have a deeper connection with some of the characters, but perhaps each of them had their time in the spotlight in previous books and fans of the series are already well-acquainted with them. I think this is a tale that can be enjoyed on several levels and it also provides an enjoyable way to armchair travel, and I choose to not make my head hurt by analyzing physics, philosophy, and trigonometric formulas but instead to savor the adventures of a very unique group of folks. The varied endings were overkill for me, but I definitely agree that “It is always better to fail in doing something than to excel in doing nothing.”
A copy of this title was provided to me for review