In the Pershings’ YA sci-fi debut, a group of teenagers develop superpowers and learn that their existence threatens an intergalactic empire.
Fourteen-year-old Tanner and his 12-year-old sister, Ryland, are the middle children in an average family from Wethersfield, Connecticut. Ryland is beautiful and popular, but Tanner is small for his age. Their normal lives are upended when they confront a teenager named Kai, who’s been stalking Ryland. Kai pulls a knife, but Ryland somehow disarms him with super-speed; he then tells her, “[Y]ou just Shifted.” The siblings’ parents soon confess that the whole family is from another planet, and now that Tanner and Ryland have reached puberty, their Shifter abilities, which come from adrenal-gland bursts, have kicked in. To their astonishment, the kids also learn that they were brought to Earth to escape a Shifter society that wanted to kill its own children, due to a prophecy that stated that a “young Shifter would change the balance” and allow Ordinaries (non-powered slaves) to rule. Unfortunately, evil Shifter intermediaries known as Keepers are already hunting Tanner, Ryland, Kai and other superpowered youths. Can the siblings protect their family and friends against the threat? The authors boldly show their love of comic-book superheroes in this charged and often hilarious narrative. The story segments alternate between Tanner’s and Ryland’s perspectives, which lets the teens entertainingly rib each other, as when Ryland says her brother “did a half decent job setting up our predicament,” but “I am definitely the right person to tell the interesting part of the story.” Fans of Superman (and Supergirl) will enjoy the protagonists’ alien origins, and X-Men readers should appreciate the youths-against-the-world theme. The story flows organically, putting intriguing helpers and haters in the kids’ path, although their time on the lam stretches a bit long. Nonetheless, the regularly occurring twists and explosive finale will keep readers riveted. Finally, the book brilliantly teases a possible future tale about another Shifter-ruled alien world.
An electrifying start to a YA series that feels like it can go anywhere in the galaxy.