The year is 1939, and John and Mary Emerson have a new baby, Jack. They know there’s something different about the 3-month-old, but it isn’t until the mysterious Wyndham Foundation contacts them that they realize that Jack can do things that normal humans can’t do. His budding powers include telekinesis, psychic ability and mind control, and when he grows up, he could be unstoppable. Under the care of his parents and a Wyndham nurse, however, he grows up to be a generally happy, well-adjusted boy. He and others like him are called “sentients,” and explore their power under the tutelage of experienced Wyndham agents. However, not everyone wants to encourage and teach the sentients; many governments, for example, view them as weapons to be controlled and deployed (especially as the Cold War reaches its peak). As Jack reaches adulthood, he learns that not all sentients are good, and as his own powers grow to levels rarely seen before, he must contend with super-beings whose goals are nothing less than absolute domination. He also must contend with his own concentrated harmonic energy field, a force that could ultimately destroy him. Although stories about teens with destructive, awe-inspiring telekinetic abilities are a well-trod field, from Stephen King’s Carrie (1974) to the 2012 film Chronicle, Parrish still lays out an intriguing journey. The novel offers a sprawling cast of affable, memorable heroes and stock villains, resulting in a lengthy but enjoyable story, told at a swift pace. The only downside is that so many characters come and go with increasing rapidity, and events rush by too quickly as the novel races to its true climax. In the end, however, Parrish ties everything together and brings the story full-circle.
A traditional but engaging new addition to a packed genre.