This series of five interconnected novellas blurs the boundaries between science fiction and fantasy. We begin with Dylan, a teen who lives in a time not so far from the present day and can’t quite shake the memories he has of another world he used to visit as a child, even if he knows that place can’t be real. We end with Quinn, a girl who lives more than a hundred years in our future, in a desolate and changed world, searching for her purpose in life. The tales that come in between are compelling in their own right, but also serve to craft a larger picture of how this world came to be.
Parker Peevyhouse’s debut novel is teeming with imagination. I was particularly impressed by her ability to bring the reader quickly into each novella, not an easy feat considering that each time she only had a few pages to make the reader care about the characters and tell a new segment of the story. Some authors don’t even manage to pull this off once in their books, and Peevyhouse manages to do it five separate times. She also does a nice job of making sure that nothing is too confusing, even though we are plunged into new worlds and circumstances in each section.
Some readers will undoubtedly find it frustrating that we don’t find out what happens to any of the main characters – we only see snapshots of their lives rather than their whole stories – but it is kind of exciting to imagine for ourselves how their lives might have gone, considering what we learn about the future in each successive section. It gives the reader the chance to be a more active part of creating the story while reading, which I always find interesting. Even I was disappointed, though, that we don’t get to find out very much about the Other World that Dylan discovers. We see how his discovery affects our mundane world, but are offered very few glimpses into the other side – we don’t get to see what the hype is about. Even if Peevyhouse had opened that world up a little bit more, not explaining it fully, but letting us marvel at it like the characters in the book do, I think it would have had a big impact.
The author’s images of the future, like every person having a 24/7 video feed of their lives from which they can earn advertising money or “high concept” music groups (like the one that refuses to leave Disneyworld or the one where everyone is pretending to have a solar allergy) are ridiculous at first, and then soberingly realistic when put in the context of the continuing story. Plus, I like that they add an element of fun to stories that are otherwise pretty sobering. I definitely recommend adding this one to your to-read shelf!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review.