It is 1963 in Farro, Iowa, where not much happens—at least until the school bully goes missing and four seventh-graders find a book that allows them to literally have out-of-body experiences.
Following the directions in the book, Henry Nilsson, his twin sister, Helen, and their friends, Chinese-American Nicki and part–Nez Perce Alan, travel through the “subtle plane,” where they are both invisible and invincible. They quickly discover that they are not the only ones with this amazing ability. In addition to the creepy man who keeps appearing out of nowhere, a violin-playing ghost and the missing school bully, there is a whole organization dedicated to policing the subtle plane. But it is up to Henry and his friends to thwart the evil schemes of a crazy genius and see if they can rescue Carl, Alan’s troubled brother. This riveting science-fiction mystery is much more than an exciting read. The subtle world may be dangerous, but Henry and his friends find that the real world poses its own challenges. Together, they grapple with racism, poverty and alcoholism, all while nursing their first crushes and dealing with the angst of the upcoming fall formal. Arntson folds all of these elements into his narrative without compromising pacing or characterization one bit.
An amazing blend of mystery, romance, science fiction and social commentary. (Science fiction. 9-12)