Once upon a time “science fiction” was not invariably preceded by “dystopian,” nor was it just a handy synonym for “paranormal.” This breath of fresh air reintroduces readers to traditional science fiction, with the bonus of a strong heroine.
Alison, 16, has been hospitalized ever since her beautiful, popular classmate, Tori, disappeared. Her claim that she disintegrated Tori landed her in the psychiatric ward and soon gets her transferred to a residential treatment facility for seriously disturbed teen patients. Confused, conflicted, fighting the deadening effects of medication, Alison is desperate to leave the hospital yet fearful of what she might do if freed. These worries are complicated by her long-held secret: She has synesthesia. This sensory cross-wiring causes Alison to experience numbers as colors; she hears stars and tastes lies. She’s long obeyed her mother’s warning to tell no one. Now a mysterious, attractive young doctor has nosed out her secret. Anderson, a Canadian author of fantasy, is an assured storyteller with a knack for creating memorable characters. The barren, northern Ontario setting—where NASA astronauts once trained for moon landings—slyly accents a twisty plot refreshingly free of YA cliché.
In bracing contrast to her passive, vampire-fodder counterparts, Alison steers her own course throughout her multi-layered journey—a thoroughly enjoyable ride. (author’s note) (Science fiction. 12 & up)