An enigmatic and diabolical ancient cult pursues a group of exceptional, multiethnic teens around the globe in this second installment of a fantasy series.
Twelve teenagers, each born in 2070, form the U.S. Titan Twelve. The talented teens competed as a team in the International Titan Games and won numerous gold medals. Now they’re celebrating with a planned vacation of visiting their ancestral homelands, countries ranging from Ghana to Italy. Sadly, there’s trouble before they even leave Thessaloniki, Greece, where the games were held. Lalitha Alexandra Gupta awakens early in the morning to the realization that Helena Maria Martin didn’t return from her late-night walk with Kofi N’Kosi Mark Annan. Equally shocking are Helena’s pleas for help, which Lalitha hears in her head, as do the other four Titan girls: Abena Ashanti Marie Richardson, Immanuela Rachel Abravanel, Fredrika Kathleen Johansson, and Wei Susan Wang. The boys (Humberto Matthew Santiago Fernandez Ramirez, Petrov Robert Vasiliev, Olis Joseph Kaiser, Zeno Thomas Theophilus, and Omari Samuel Hassan) inform the girls that N’Kosi is also missing. Using the girls’ newfound telepathy, signified by white color patterns in front of their eyes, they track down their friends. The group confronts menacing hooded individuals and discovers additional powers, like generating a telekinetic energy field. Helena and N’Kosi are fine, and Ashanti surmises that the abductions were some type of warning, verified later when they receive a cryptic note. They begin their world-trekking vacation, but it’s soon clear the kidnappers, who decree themselves the Dark Acolytes, are stalking them. As the cult’s objective is unknown, the Titans decide to get answers by using their special abilities combatively rather than as mere defense.
Porter’s (Rise of the Twelve, 2016) series is essentially an origin story for superpowered teens. It’s engrossing to watch them slowly acquire abilities, which include levitation and a distinctive color pattern for each (telekinesis is blood red). Likewise, the Titans are still learning, as powers seem to emerge under stress and aren’t readily accessible. Nevertheless, the novel’s genuine focus is its potpourri of characters, featuring diverse lineages. This makes for a culturally rich narrative, as the Titans travel to different countries and experience the nations’ food, histories, and landmarks. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to display the story’s late-21st-century technology, like spaceports, with shuttles flying in the high end of the stratosphere. Porter molds the Titans individually, not just their backgrounds, but their personalities as well. Witty Ashanti, for example, upon arrival in Rome, claims that the Italian-speaking captain (an android-esque Humanoid Intelligence unit) asks if she is a movie star. The unfortunate downside to the extensive global tour is that it sidelines the book’s thriller aspects. The opening kidnapping is rife with anticipation, as the Titans race to save Helena and N’Kosi. But the Dark Acolytes subsequently make only sporadic appearances for much of the novel and rarely engage the Titans, so the suspense gradually wanes. There’s plenty left for the second part of Book 2, however, as the vacation is nowhere near completion and the cult’s eventually revealed sinister purposes will be an unmistakable threat.
Though it abandons its initial intensity, this story showcases a welcome union of singular characters.