Marcus, anguished at his separation from Evie, shares his back story, including a dysfunctional family, deceased older brother, and a destructive “tornado” inside him that’s “spinning out of control.”
Sequel to cliffhanger Invincible (2015), the novel begins when Marcus saves cancer-survivor teen Evie from drowning, but he's prevented by doctors and family from seeing her as she recovers from various addictions. His isolation gives Marcus ample time to reflect on his life. Told in alternating sections made up of “there” flashback scenes, “here” present-day entries, and “you,” lovelorn, anguished inner monologues directed at Evie, the book ends with two hopeful final sections (“now” and “us”). Retracing his family’s tragic implosion, Marcus examines what drove his brilliant brother to suicide, illuminating why he’s adopted various bad habits, including smoking pot and self-harm through cutting. The overwrought language of the “you” sections (“Supposedly, swans mate for life. When they kiss, their necks form the shape of a heart….Does a swan really sing when it dies? Is its pain really that beautiful?”) often interrupts genuinely compelling explorations of Marcus’ story and the accompanying insights into the mindset of those who harm themselves, seeking relief (“I choose blood instead of tears”).
Fans of Invincible seeking fuller answers to the Marcus-Evie puzzle may forgive the soapy sections and enjoy its more measured, insightful writing and happy ending. (Fiction. 14-18)