Twiddy jump-starts her debut YA sci-fi series with the story of a boy—who can morph into various creatures—wanting to know his origin while keeping his ability a secret.
Gar knows he’s a fish, living in the Mud River in Ada, South Carolina, for the last 15 years. Beyond that, he’s not entirely sure, inexplicably winding up on land one day in the summer of 1987. He easily transforms into a human, picking up whatever language and social cues he can from people near the woods, including teen siblings Nell and Simon, who fish almost daily. After befriending a raccoon, whom Gar names Little, he’s spotted by Nell as he flips through her sketchbook in raccoon form. He flees but has a second run-in with Nell, this time as a teen boy, her suspicions fueled when she recognizes his glowing green eyes. Gar, wanting to know who he is and if there are others like him, hopes for answers from former Ada resident Ben McIntyre. While in Ada, Ben stashed a bizarre, buzzing pea pod and notes on a meteorite from ’72. Strangely, locals didn’t remember the meteorite. Later, a frustrated Ben moved to Michigan and received his geology Ph.D. Gar conducts research at the library, steering clear of odd Mrs. Trumble, who somehow knows him, while finding himself drawn to Nell. The jaunty tale centers primarily on young love in lieu of the sci-fi backdrop. Nell’s definitely wary of Gar—she can tell there’s something unusual about him—but eventually warms up to him, leading to hints of romance and perhaps a bit more. Genuinely humorous moments often involve Gar still figuring out human behavior: evidently it’s not normal for a guest to scoop up handfuls of freshly baked lasagna. The narrative’s pace is steady but slow, offering some scenes, like a school food fight and a group date, with little or no relation to the main plot. The story really picks up in a late final act when Gar tracks down Ben for help. Resolutions, however, ranging from what or who Gar is to the meteorite’s genesis, Twiddy seems to be saving for another book.
This meteorite tale favors—and nails—teen romance but remains a mere inauguration for the mysterious titular character.