A 16-year-old discovers his true purpose as a Change Agent for good in this debut YA novel.
On his 16th birthday, William Hawk has a vision: “I saw the kitchen, the house, the neighborhood, the world, and the universe, all bound together in a breathtaking, vibrating, color-saturated web.” After attacking a boy (thanks to new power, surging emotions, and jumping to conclusions), William goes on the run. Hitchhiking, he’s picked up by Cy, an elderly Native American who has much to teach. He takes William to a cave, the Hall of Knowledge, covered with drawings and symbols. Meanwhile, Grace, another 16-year-old, lies in a deep coma but can communicate with William telepathically; she asks to be rescued. It seems that William and Grace are Change Agents, meant to help civilization achieve its “final ignition point” and become “one with the light.” Working against them is Roivas, Grace’s malicious twin brother, who murders William’s family and hopes to short-circuit civilization’s ignition. William and his friends must overcome a multitude of problems so that he can enter the spiritual realm, find Grace, and defeat Roivas. By the end, William can count some victories, but he still has work to do. Salow’s novel employs a somewhat threadbare plot element from YA sci-fi/fantasy: the seemingly ordinary teenager with a special destiny whose hidden strengths can save the world. Also overly familiar is the magical-minority trope, in which a Native American, Asian, or African-American seems to exist to serve the white character and has access to wisdom and knowledge that Caucasians don’t. Cy’s legends don’t even make sense as Native American—“Apollyon,” for example, is a Greek translation of a Hebrew word. The tale’s lore altogether is a bit abstract. And the slaughter of William’s family seems a bit drastic. But the story is well-written, with vivid minor characters such as William’s girlfriend, Julia, and his best friend, Arthur, who contribute to the action and help remind the reader that the hero once had an ordinary life full of kidding around and other teenage concerns.
Familiar sci-fi/fantasy tropes, but an entertaining read thanks to effective dialogue.