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Quintina: The Starseed Series (Volume 2) Paperback – May 7, 2016
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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A galaxy away from Earth, Anna (whose new name is Quintina) is experiencing some major culture shock as she tries to make sense of her new situation. Though the life forms tending to her do not have three eyes or green skin and generally look pretty human, they speak a language she can’t understand. Not only that, but the showers are about as satisfying as a decaf, sugar-free vanilla, non-fat latte. And no, the jelly legs aren’t helping.
But the real shocker comes when Anna discovers that world outside her window with red lawns and not a Starbucks to be seen is actually her birth home! Cray cray.
Like some kind of inter-galactic Freaky Friday experiment gone wrong, Anna’s ‘soul’ was ripped from her body and sent to Earth 17 years earlier, where it was implanted in an infant girl. Though she recalls nothing of her former life, it quickly becomes clear that if she ever hopes to go back to the third planet from the sun she had better change that–and fast.
Of course, like all good lost identities, hers comes equipped with a riddle of secrets and betrayals that catapult her on a journey to correct a 17-year old injustice that has cost an innocent man, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend, his life and freedom.
What I enjoyed most about this novel was all the girls (to take a line from Matt Damon in The Martian) ‘sciencing the s***’ out of things. Anna and the people responsible for her banishment are pioneers in the field of astro physics. As we learn about the suspicious circumstances surrounding why she was sent away, we also get treated to some super-smart sounding stuff about how. Though I didn’t understand a lot of it, it was still a refreshing change from Nobel Prize winner Tim Hunt’s recent comments that women are nothing more than a sexy distraction in the lab.
However, despite the learning fun, I found that the action and tension was a little slow and underdeveloped at the beginning of this novel and I struggled to get through the first 30 pages. As well, while I enjoyed the details about how this new planet differed from our own green and blue homestead, the sense of alien-ness was more on the level of visiting a foreign country rather than foreign galaxy. As well, there was one plot point that the author didn’t address and that left me feeling a little un-settled (though that may be because I’m nine months pregnant right now): if Anna’s soul basically highjacked a baby 17-years ago, does that mean the soul that was meant for that newborn was snuffed out?
Despite these weaknesses, I still left the book feeling a little smarter, a little empowered, and generally glad that I’d read it.
Anna wakes to find herself in what she believes to be imprisonment in a hospital, surrounded by people she cannot communicate with. With regular sedation she drifts into memories and dreams, flitting from her life back on Earth to further recall about others who seem familiar.
Slowly Anna recovers, begins to communicate with those caring and guarding her and with their help she finds she can speak their language as more memories return. Anna learns that Enki is home and that she was sent to Earth for seventeen years as part of a Starseed program, but friends here were able to recall her when they feared she was in danger.
Now known as Quintina, Anna's memories of the night she was first sent to Earth are vital in revealing the enemy within. A plan is hatched to rescue an innocent man, but it hinges on getting the King to believe their tale, and seventeen years is a long time between events.
The story will continue in book #3.
As I read the first book over two and a half years ago, it took a while to remember the storyline. Book two plunges the reader into a new alien world and alien technology all of which are given lots of descriptions. Book one's storyline is hinted at as Anna recalls her memories. I think I would have enjoyed a short storyline recap at the beginning of the book to get me back into the series. The world of Enki is well thought out, but for me the time between action was drawn out too much by the mundane. Book two moves a long way from book one with it's seventeen year old main character, love triangle story arc. On Enki Anna is twenty four and the romance hinted at is much older, which to me potentially skips the genre from YA to NA.
I felt like I was really able to get to know Quintina through this book. Her character has grown more complex with her dual life. I loved the character development in the book for her. Going through her emotions and being able to clearly feel what she feels is a talent Riley has in her writing. I felt the stress and anxiety, confusion over living in this world she has to readjust to, hope over new relationships. Riley did a great job of introducing you to Quintina while retaining Anna, who could have easily been lost in this story. There were a lot of twists throughout and I loved going through them with Quintina, experiencing them together.
Just like the end of Anna, I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series to hear what happens to Quintina/Anna.