Two teenagers find salvation in each other in this music-tinged YA sci-fi novel.
Teen Davi is struck by a girl he sees at a glam and glitter rock concert. She isn’t exactly beautiful, but there is something that draws him to her. When he sees her leaving the Angelus—the once-great hotel founded by his great-grandfather and where Davi and his sister still live—he follows her and eventually introduces himself. She is Anna Z., and she’s a girl of a million interests and theories. The two quickly bond over their love of glam god Django Conn, whom Anna sees as the next stage in human evolution: “We’re homo lux. Humans made out of light just like in the movies and the late show on TV. That’s Django—and that’s us too.” Anna opens Davi’s eyes to ideas that he’s never before considered. Davi thinks he’s found a new best friend even though he receives warnings that Anna is not what she appears to be. Nevertheless, he is strongly tempted to join Anna on a pilgrimage to follow Django’s tour across the continent and to discover the secret of “Alien Drift,” a mysterious force that might have great implications for the future of humanity. Watts (Stonecutter, 2006, etc.) writes in an inventive, energetic prose that synthesizes slang and youthful earnestness to capture the personality of narrator Davi: “One half of me was zapped by seeing this girl, like a knife juiced with electricity cutting into my brain. She was gone, vanished, disappeared inside herself.” The world of the novel, from its language and geography to its layers of popular culture, is drawn with intricacy and vitality. Some of the plot points may feel a bit contrived, but the colorful verisimilitude of Davi and his infatuation with Anna should propel readers forward. Django is perhaps a bit too obviously a David Bowie analog, but Watts successfully captures not only the gravity of a teenage subculture, but also the more mercurial feeling of an axial generation on the cusp of something completely new.
A bighearted and imaginative tale about a glam god’s fans.