An enigmatic new arrival turns the life of a high school rocker upside down.
When beautiful, mysterious Aja arrives in Fred’s town, he is intrigued, quickly falling in love with her and her strange ways. Referred to in her native Brazil as “Pequena Maga,” or “Little Magician,” Aja has the whole town gossiping about her special abilities, and after witnessing the miraculous recovery of a friend while in Aja’s presence, Fred begins to believe, too. Enthralled and protective, Fred spends much of his time shielding Aja from a snooping reporter and the scrutiny of the town; however, the stakes never seem high, and the book lacks tension. With phrases such as “she’s a looker” and “swinging chick,” both Fred’s narration and the dialogue sound dated and result in an inauthentic teen voice. Perhaps to compensate for this weakness, the book name-drops pop-culture references like The Walking Dead and Jay Z and 50 Cent. Pike gamely attempts to address hot-button issues like sexuality and race, but the discussions around these topics are both obvious and didactic. On the issue of race, the book is regressive and falls back on negative tropes by turning a significant black character into the Magical Negro.
Pensive teen readers might appreciate the book’s philosophical questions about the concept of advaita, the recognition of one’s “true self,” but this work better suits Pike’s original fans—fans who are far removed from the teenage experience. (Paranormal romance. 14 & up)