A young girl holds the key to an explosive, decades-old mind-control experiment gone wrong in Thomas’ debut thriller.
When 11-year-old Ashanique Walters claims to “see” the death of Pvt. George Edwin Ellison, a soldier who died in Belgium in 1918, Ashanique’s mother, Janice—who, as a child, was the subject of an experiment to alter memories called Project Clarity—knows that Ashanique will need help soon. The visions will get worse, eventually overwhelming her and driving her insane. When Dr. Matilda Deacon, a University of Chicago professor who has been working to unlock the mysteries of memory, hears about Ashanique, she's intrigued by the girl's mind-blowing tale. Unfortunately, because of Matilda’s visit, word of Ashanique’s visions gets to the people Janice fears the most, and Janice knows they’ll have to run. Janice is good at this—she’s been on the run from the Clarity scientists for 20 years. When knife-wielding men in scrubs, dubbed the “Night Doctors,” come for her and Ashanique, they escape and head to Matilda’s workplace, where Janice hopes to find a supply of MetroChime, which will keep Ashanique’s visions at bay. Rade, an ultracreepy assassin who’s convinced he’s more than human, is given the job of bringing Janice in, convinced she alone possesses something they call the "solution." When Rade captures Janice, Matilda takes Ashanique and goes on the run to protect her. Rade is close behind, and he doesn’t hesitate to kill anyone in his way. There might be people who can help Ashanique, if she and Matilda can make it to them alive. Luckily, they have intrepid homicide detective Kojo Omaboe, who also sees something special in Ashanique, on their side. The idea of accessing past lives and memories is an intriguing one, but the precise goal of the experimentation isn't made clear. Glimpses of Ashanique's visions into the lives of various people of the past, such as a family that lived more than a million years ago and a young boy in 17th-century India, don’t do much to lift this out of generic hunt-and-chase territory.
While the science is intriguing, the ridiculously high body count feels gratuitous and comes at the cost of much-needed character development. Empty thrills.