In Hickam’s YA debut, a teenage girl on the cusp of adulthood finds herself targeted by the Revealed, a strange, secretive cult known for kidnapping 18-year-olds—none of whom are ever seen again.
Lily Atwood, the daughter of a presidential candidate, is young, restless and tired of being cooped up in her family’s compound. To protect her from the Revealed, she’s rarely allowed out, since they’ve been sending notes indicating that she’s on their abduction list. Hickam’s novel takes place in the future, when the United States is no more, thanks to a devastating war that has reduced the nation once again to a pocket of colonies located near the East Coast. Aided by a number of telekinetic and possibly psychic abilities, the Revealed have captured hundreds of teenagers, despite security measures. Lily, an admirably strong, levelheaded protagonist, is mostly resigned to the fact that the Revealed will come for her. She finds her parents to be naïve at best, stultifying and smothering at worst. She’s plunged into an unusual scenario, but unfortunately, the novel spends far too long stalling the inevitable, with over half the book devoted to Lily simply being angst-ridden, which is especially overwhelming given that her story is presented in the first person, present tense. When the plot finally picks up steam, the revelations are often predictable and far-fetched. Furthermore, worldbuilding is too often ignored in favor of an undercooked thread revolving around Lily’s unlikely crush on the son of her father’s opponent, turning what could have been a taut thriller into a standard YA romance.
There’s much to admire in this debut novel, but the overall effect proves to be more sluggish and familiar than the unique concept warrants.