In this debut novel, a new world power targets a woman with rare abilities.
Denver emergency room nurse Valerie Russell is shocked by her appearance one morning: The 35-year-old now looks 20. With no time to ponder the phenomenon, she leaves for a 12-hour shift at a facility two hours away. Upon her arrival, her car suddenly dies and Valerie passes out. After regaining consciousness, she guides others, who have passed out as well, to the facility. According to reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims an electric surge has affected people globally and wants to see those who have lost consciousness for “observation.” But Valerie’s greatest concern is her 2-year-old son, Caleb, back at home with the nanny (Valerie’s husband, Scott, is at work). Meanwhile, her father, Mike Burton, has answers to what’s transpiring. Some people have a no-longer-dormant gene that allows them to absorb electricity. Valerie belongs to a more elite group with powers capable of much more. While she races to find Caleb and Scott, formidable individuals, having anticipated the gene’s awakening, want her for her abilities. Their purpose is sinister: mass genocide of those not carrying the gene. In this first installment of a sci-fi trilogy, the plot’s extraordinary event is worldwide, but Arnold wisely concentrates on Valerie in the U.S. There are hints of others who share her gifts, which open avenues for the series to explore later. Valerie is an exceptional protagonist: She has survivalist skills (courtesy of Mike) and shrewdly distrusts people, including reputed friends of her father. The story’s villain is likewise sharply defined. The CDC initially appears nefarious before one individual becomes the unmitigated baddie. Though the author’s near-breakneck pace is exhilarating, it doesn’t leave much room for standout supporting characters, like Valerie’s resilient female ally Hyka Major. But that’s something the forthcoming volumes could easily rectify—and something for readers to look forward to.
A commendable sci-fi series launch spearheaded by a remarkable heroine.