Teenagers with supernatural abilities may be the only ones who can stop creatures from a parallel world from consuming all life on Earth in Alexander’s debut sci-fi thriller.
Sixteen-year-old Kyle Tanner doesn’t stay at schools for very long, as he either flunks out or gets kicked out. His problems, at least in part, stem from his recurring nightmares of terrifying creatures from another world. These dreams, however, make Kyle an ideal candidate for mysterious Banville Academy. Dr. Alistair Jameson gives the boy a tour of the school, introducing him to peers who have psychic gifts, including telepathy, telekinesis, and empathic abilities. Kyle, like Jameson himself, has a rare gift called Night Walking, in which his consciousness leaves his body during sleep. The teen then roams the “antiverse,” which is populated by Night People that feed on energy from the waking world. Kyle faces derision from “telek” Cody and “telep” Ian, fellow students who can’t comprehend Kyle’s ability. There are definite perks to Banville, though: for the first time, Kyle actually makes friends, including a telep named Cheng Wu and Jameson’s granddaughter, an empath named Kira who can see from Kyle’s aura that he’s lonely. He also finds the potential for romance with telek Kate Garcia. But a threat looms over the school and the entire world. The sinister Dragnars hope to unite the antiverse and our world, allowing Night People to slaughter humans—and they begin by targeting Banville students for elimination.
Alexander builds a solid foundation for his psychic-teen tale by concentrating on his fictional universe’s more relatable qualities. For example, Banville is, in many ways, a typical school. The way that teleks and teleps despise one another, for example, is reminiscent of the familiar jocks-versus-nerds dynamic. Likewise, other students constantly question Kyle’s gift and his worth, especially after Jameson puts together a team to combat a potential Dragnar assault. Kyle himself hardly understands how Night Walking works, which allows readers to learn about it alongside him during practices. The glimpses of the antiverse are the story’s most vivid moments, as when Kyle spies “a torrent of black water gushing from a break in the rocks far below” and later discerns “a lilting tune just out of hearing…a charming melody [that] grows stronger by the second.” There’s an assortment of remarkable creatures, such as “ravenors,” which are hairless, sexless, and at least 10 feet tall. The most nerve-wracking enemies, though, remain unseen, sometimes using their powers to make people watch—or attack—Banville students. The narrative also delves into numerous characters’ histories; Kate’s brother, Quin, has been “in kind of a coma since birth,” so she asks Kyle to try using his powers to reach him. The ending offers only slight resolution—one character even acknowledges the plethora of unanswered questions, such as why the Dragnars attempted to kidnap one specific person—but it makes for a fine setup for a sequel.
A supernatural tale with engaging characters and psychic powers that lays the groundwork for a planned series.