Lovely book that I think lost itself some in the second half.
Recommendation: If you enjoy your fantasy or science fiction with more contemporary fiction elements, with a magical realism feel, you’ll like this one. I recommend a library or a paperback buy. If you own it already I’d say a medium-high priority.
This is a story about two outcasts, one magical and one technological, that grow up together, grow apart, and then find themselves again after college, only to experience a horrible geological catastrophe on a wide scale. Patricia is a witch, she can commune with nature, but magic in this world is an act of balance, give and take, and Patricia wants to give too much. Laurence is a technological genius that is researching a way to open a portal to another world just in case this Earth dies. Patricia very much believes that the Earth is worth trying to save and heal while Laurence and his friends believe that leaving Earth is the answer.
I absolutely loved the first half of this book. The first half is all about Patricia and Laurence growing up as kids and fitting in. It read very much like a well written young adult book and I found both Patricia and Laurence’s lives interesting. I loved Laurence building an A.I. in his bedroom closet and Patricia desperately wanting to somehow use her magical powers she learned she had as a child. I connected with the bullying but it might have gone a little overboard in that area. Also a lot of reviewers seem to point out that these two characters have no adult support, as both of their parents are bad parents. I’d expect the kids to turn out much worse without any adult support system than what they did. They had a rough childhood and sometimes they weren’t even there for each other because of peer pressure but this story held my interest so much during the first half.
The magic in this world was amazing. In this world magic is a balancing act. If you give too much, you have to take something. If you do too many good things, something bad might happen elsewhere. The biggest sin when it comes to magic is pride and aggrandizement. There is trickster magic that is basically a contract with people when you preform magic for them. For every form of magic there is a cause and an effect. The technology aspects were great and I love the A.I. Laurence made and later in the story, the personal idevices called Caddies.
During the second half of this book, I got a bit confused on what Anders was trying to do. First off, the romantic relationship between Laurence and Patricia was awkward and unneeded. I found their relationship more believable and better as just close friends. There is a lot of emphasis on ethics and if ethics is something that changes or is stationary. There is also a running theme that science and nature(magic) are at odds with each other. Anders wants the reader to decide if science and nature can coexist or not. I think that this book would have worked better if Anders stuck to one main theme in the second half and wrote the plot around that one theme. Instead she is writing the plot around many different themes and this caused the plot to become a bit convoluted. Things go a bit crazy and characters turn into X-Men, become professional motorcyclists, there are ridiculous mech like machines, and not to mention completely ignored plot points and characters.
I liked this book quite a bit but I became disappointed in the follow through. At the half way point I was ready to give this a 5 star rating. The more subtle and downplayed SFF elements really appealed to me. I think if the second half stuck with a more downplayed story and told the story more chronologically without flashbacks, it would have worked so much better. I also felt that the writing strength in the second half was much less than the first. The first half had some amazing sentences that made me stop and think.
I am really happy I read this book and I’ll be excited to read another book by Anders in the future.
15/25 Possible Score
Plot – 3(Good)
Characters – 3(Good)
World Building/Setting – 3(Good)
Writing Style – 3(Good)
Heart & Mind Aspect –3(Good)