Alison’s nemesis from Ultraviolet (2011) narrates the overlapping events in this mostly successful sequel-cum–companion piece.
Tori’s family flees Sudbury to reinvent themselves in southern Ontario, leaving identity, names and friends behind after her unusual DNA attracts unwanted medical attention—especially from Deckard, the Sudbury cop investigating her disappearance and return six months later. Disguise notwithstanding, Tori, beautiful and a brilliant engineer in the making, draws plenty of notice, especially from Milo, a Korean-Canadian fellow employee at the supermarket where she checks groceries. Their growing friendship, complicated by Milo’s unrequited longing, is tested when Sebastian Faraday arrives on an urgent errand and Deckard shows up, determined to solve the mystery Tori represents. Though exceptional, Tori makes a strong, convincing protagonist whose fears, blocked sexuality and indifference to her looks ring true. While Sebastian and Alison remain vivid, Milo is less compelling—more supporting player than male lead. One structural factor bogs the story down. Crucial information and back story laid out in Ultraviolet is here withheld from readers until the end. Teasing readers is a time-honored technique for building suspense and usually effective—unless they already know what’s being withheld.
Luckily, Anderson’s strong characters and rare knack for weaving contemporary realism and emotional authenticity into hard science fiction should keep even readers in the know engaged. (Science fiction. 12 & up)