In Leigh-Reign’s debut sci-fi thriller, a teenage misanthrope questions his disturbing proclivities and even his origin after he becomes inexplicably captivated by a new girl at school.
Californian Adam Caspian definitely isn’t a typical 16-year-old. He spends his days sexually desiring his mother, JoAnn, and hating people in general, often referring to them as “animals.” He’s able to subdue these tendencies enough to function socially—although he might have had something to do with the disappearance of a local grocery clerk. However, he’s thoroughly unprepared for Carly Wit, a new student at his high school who doesn’t repulse him; in fact, he can’t stop thinking about her. Carly is definitely peculiar; for example, the dark rings around the irises of her eyes sometimes turn crimson, and at one point, a bump on her forehead, due to an errant football, mysteriously disappears the next day. It turns out that there’s plenty that Adam doesn’t know about Carly—or about himself. He decides to look into his own background after he also rapidly recovers from a serious accident. He soon discovers that he may actually be Russian, like Carly, and that they’re both descended from lineages with a rare, powerful genetic mutation. They also have other relatives with supernatural abilities, collectively called Iksha, who once held their ancestors captive. As Adam slowly learns about his own capabilities, he exposes secrets involving his parents and others. But is there enough light in Carly to save him, or will his darkness engulf them both? Despite the fact that the novel has teenage protagonists, it’s certainly not aimed at readers of that age. Adam, for example, revels in, rather than represses, his Oedipus complex, even believing that he and JoAnn furtively share a mutual attraction. He’s an indelible character, though—an unhinged young man who, by the time he’s partnered with Carly, becomes a convincing romantic lead. This transformation is surprising, but it works because Leigh-Reign delves into his dense back story, which largely explains his darker impulses. Adam is also shown to genuinely care for Carly, who’s a strong character on her own. The book’s second half more closely resembles a YA tale, as it concentrates on the suspense of a lurking enemy and paranormal confrontations.
A somewhat standard, if rousing, supernatural tale combined with a gleefully eccentric teenage romance.