"A solid first entry of a promising, imaginative new young-adult fantasy series featuring a well-crafted character."– Kirkus Reviews
Young priest Joe Stanton is hunted by a vicious military-industrial conspiracy when he becomes the latest man afflicted by mystic—and very likely fatal—visions of strange marine environments and parental loss.
Bennett’s (Battle for Cascadia, 2011, etc.) sure hand keeps this apocalyptic yarn from sinking in outsized action and borderline-cartoonish characterizations. Joe Stanton is a handsome, compassionate yet two-fisted Episcopal priest with a girlfriend, Ella, who everyone agrees is stunningly gorgeous. Joe is suddenly seized by panicked visions of a deceased daughter he never had and overwhelming emotions of grief and loss. When amateur video of Stanton’s public meltdown goes viral, the incident draws the attention of Erebus, a rogue international military-security contractor (think Blackwater). Two of their divers suffered identical symptoms and died with what appeared to be brain tumors. Sheldon Beck, psychopath scion of the alpha-predator family that runs Erebus, wants to know the connection. Beck and his sadistic mercenaries, amoral doctors and ex–Special Forces killers have Joe and Ella under surveillance on the Washington state coastline, as the couple realizes Joe is telepathically linked to an astounding event unfolding in Earth’s oceans. Sci-fi fans may sense parallels with the comedic plotlines of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986) or Douglas Adams’ So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (1984); this time, though, it’s played straight. Yet Bennett, after a neat Dean Koontz–style curtain-raiser, keeps raising the stakes. And, like a clever magician, he diverts the reader’s attention while taking the ecological-end-times scenario to the next level. The tone is consistent with much Christian-oriented fantasy fiction—the title apparently refers not only to the year this takes place, but also to a biblical chapter and verse—and there are functional equivalents of a deity, the devil and a Christ-like sacrifice. But the emphasis is on environmentalism more so than evangelism. Indeed, except for the ever-virtuous hero and heroine, Homo sapiens don’t seem to be deemed a species worth saving.
Deft storytelling and a riptide of action propel this cataclysmic narrative along, regardless of its eco-religious ballast.
When 13-year-old Warren plays a prank on an unfriendly peer, he unknowingly sets in motion a series of actions that may have devastating consequences for his community and the world.
Warren Wilkes is an orphan being raised by his uncle in a quiet mountainside community. When an ambitious housing developer moves in to build up the land for his profit and destroy valuable forest in the process, Warren sets out to ambush the developer’s son and causes him to fall off his jet ski on a lake. Following the prank, and before he is caught by the authorities, Warren takes off for the woods, where he stumbles upon an ancient site containing human remains. There he discovers and pockets a mysterious artifact before leaving the site. To pay for his crime, Warren is required to do community service and chooses to help out at a residential home for seniors. On his first day, he briefly meets an unusual woman with whom he feels an instant connection. Bennett goes on to introduce several other characters at the home that seem to have either a mysterious knowledge or deep suspicion of Warren. Leaving the center, he returns to the site in the woods where he found the ancient human bones, a mysterious cave where an alien life form is revealed to him—an alien whose very existence endangers the human world. Subsequently, magical, dangerous events take place that require more than the usual suspension of disbelief, such as the fact that the Earth itself has a living, breathing soul and can be destroyed. As the tale winds down, Warren is no closer to understanding the mystery of the ancient artifact, or his relationship to the unusual woman in the senior home. But Bennett has piqued the reader’s interest with what is yet to be explained and the creativity of the storyline, so a return to the series would be most welcome. Bennett also deftly depicts the special bond between young best friends in the relationship between Warren and his friend, Sean, a young man who supports Warren in his attempt to understand what is happening at the ancient burial site, how to use the artifact he found there and what Warren’s relationship is to the people at the center.
A solid first entry of a promising, imaginative new young-adult fantasy series featuring a well-crafted character.