Two teens rekindle their romance and stage a daring metaphysical rescue in an intoxicating alternate reality.
In the six months since they met and had a wild overnight adventure in Shyness, a strange Australian coastal suburb where it’s always dark, Nia and the mysteriously hairy Jethro (also called Wildgirl and Wolfboy, respectively) haven’t spoken, but they haven’t been able to forget each other, either. Craving both stability and adventure, each has turned to work and family to pass the time, reuniting after a bit of heartache to save Jethro’s friend Paul. Investigating further, they discover connections between the mysterious Datura Institute and sinister Dr. Gregory’s unscrupulous experiments with dreams and consciousness. Jethro and Nia team up with Blake (formerly under the control of the Kidds, abandoned children addicted to sugar) and her ally, the Queen of the Night (an accomplished teen herbalist). Hall deposits readers directly into a wildly distinctive world while also providing enough contextual clues from This Is Shyness (2010) that readers unfamiliar with it will grasp what’s going on. A final-act red herring dilutes the impact of the rescue’s daring set piece and will leave readers hoping that there may be another Shyness novel coming along someday.
This inventive read successfully combines elements of contemporary teen lit, dystopian adventures, and The X-Men into a delicate, elliptical, and heartfelt genre all its own. (Urban fantasy. 14 & up)