In Snizek’s (Secret of the Shielded, 2014, etc.) latest YA fantasy, a 16-year-old looking for ways to reinvent herself finds out that she’s a genetic hybrid.
Eris Payton is an ordinary teenage girl…almost. Her whole life, she’s felt awkward and friendless, as she and her mother are constantly moving from place to place. Her misery is compounded by the fact that her dad left the family when she was little and her mom is an abusive drinker and drug abuser. One day, Eris sees a mysterious boy in a convenience store—a boy that no one else can see. At first she thinks he’s a ghost, but the truth turns out to be even stranger: he’s actually two beings combined. One of them is Matt, a human who disappeared a while ago; the other is Nelson, an electric being called a lucent, who’s able to join with humans in a kind of symbiosis. When Matt ran away from home and nearly died, the lucent joined with him to save his life, and now the two exist as one being. Nelson tells Eris that a virus has been killing lucents, but he was told that she could help—although he doesn’t know how. It all sounds crazy to Eris, but after a particularly bad night at home, she decides to go with Nelson to his underground community. It turns out that something in her blood might hold the cure to the lucent virus; she also aims to finally find out what happened to her dad, who genetically engineered her before her birth. Snizek creates an engaging world in her portrayal of the lucent community. The book is sometimes slow-paced, however, and there are occasional flashes of other popular YA novels: for example, lucents have skin that glows in the sunlight (à la Twilight), and they must undergo an aptitude test to learn to control their flow of electricity. However, the romance between Eris and Nelson is sweet and believable. Eris herself is a likable protagonist who always comes across as smart and capable, even when she doesn’t understand the new world she’s discovered.
An entertaining, if occasionally slow, read for fans of the paranormal and fantasy genres.