A teen’s hallucinations signal the dawning of a genetically inherited, critically important gift for navigating the multiverse.
The need to make a decision—a multiple-choice quiz, what to order in the school cafeteria—triggers narrator Alicia’s episodes, which have resisted the talk therapy and anti-anxiety meds overseen by Alex, her scientist uncle. Each catapults the white teen into a strange world where she embodies some subtly different version of herself and often encounters her father, whom Alicia last saw at age 3. On a sinking Dnieper River cruise ship, he warns of danger, saying “get lost and stay lost.” Then, at her 15th birthday party, he arrives in the flesh and gives her a small wooden tool. An important change is coming: she’s a spandrel, he tells her before Alex, his brother, whisks him away. Much has been hidden from her by those, well-intentioned or not, charged with her welfare, she learns, when the promised change comes about that night. With her Pakistani-American friend and confidant, Hafeez, Alicia struggles to grasp the stakes, which are enormous and include the imminent destruction of a world that contains blue-eyed, white Jax, her possible soul mate, who’s fighting to save it. The clever, fast-moving plot features a strong, appealing heroine, Sylvia Plath’s poetry, romance, betrayal, and heart-stopping suspense.
Science-fiction fans will say “You had me at ‘multiverse,’ ” while those seeking an alternative to near-future dystopias will find plenty to entertain them here. (Science fiction. 13-18)