Teens in the near future must protect powerful crystals from ancient foes in Pellitteri’s sci-fi debut.
Seventeen-year-old Michael Saxon lines up an internship at a business called Enbright right out of high school. The company began as an environmentally friendly business, and once employed Michael’s scientist parents, who vanished when he turned 7. When Damien Von Conner, the son of West, the company’s founder, took the reins, Enbright expanded into many new fields, including high-tech military equipment. Michael now uses his spelunking skills for Enbright to look for historical artifacts that predate PowerSpice, a fungus found in caves and used for energy. It turns out that there’s a much stronger source of energy, in the form of four apple-sized crystals, which Enbright apparently wants to keep secret. Michael and his teenage co-worker, Emma, don’t know who to trust, as they discover that two rival ancient civilizations, the Draculesti and the Danesti, will resort to kidnapping and murder to retrieve the crystals. Pellitteri’s novel offers a lot to digest, but it hits the ground running and generates impressive forward momentum. The fact that each crystal is located in a different region allows for an expedition of global proportions; along the way, Michael and Emma gradually pursue an unsurprising but pleasant romantic relationship. Readers quickly learn that there’s something special about Michael, although the story doesn’t provide details until the end. Many plot points, such as the Draculesti’s “blood doping” and Enbright’s use of cyborgs, initially seem like asides, but pay off before the story’s over. The author doesn’t squander narrative space: Discussions of flying machines known as Dragonhunters serve as a precursor to an inevitable action scene, and when Michael’s dad tells his young son that a crystal has the power to teleport human beings, it’s not long before there’s a demonstration. Despite the hefty plot, however, Pellitteri focuses on a comparatively small number of characters, and generally represents large groups with one or two people, such as West and Damien at Enbright. Murky associations are a big part of the fun, as characters claim to support one side but actually work for another.
A complex, technological sci-fi novel, served up at a frenetic pace.