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This action-packed, breakneck-paced novel featuring a duo of lovestruck teenaged protagonists is a wildly imaginative young-adult apocalyptic thriller that also utilizes elements of science fiction, fantasy, folklore, mythology and romance.

Set in a near-future Chicago in the midst of a pandemic that has spread throughout the world, killing untold thousands of people with an unstoppable “super-cancer,” the story revolves around Olivya Wright-Ono, a 15-year-old girl with psychic abilities that allow her to see people’s auras. Olivya desperately wants to get to know a mysterious boy named Mikah that she met in V-class, the virtual school she attends. But all of her free time is spent helping her mother run a hospice that’s always full. Olivya and Mikah decide to meet in the middle of the night at the Lincoln Park Zoo, and, amid the bloody chaos of the apocalypse, the two find love; “[T]he place where their lips touched became the world, the galaxy, the universe.” After Mikah reveals that he isn’t exactly human, the two teens come to realize that only they can stop the looming destruction of humankind—and, ultimately, the entire universe. The diversity of narrative elements and historical references—invading aliens, dragons, angels, cyber-golems, the Great Chicago Fire, Mount Vesuvius, the minotaur, Lilith, demon hybrids, living star ships, etc.—while entertaining, at times overshadows the main storyline and negatively affects the novel’s fluidity. But the irreverent dialogue puts a lighthearted young-adult spin on the apocalyptic happenings; lines such as “[I]t seemed perfectly natural to have a god-dude just chillin’ in her room,” and “[T]hat psychotic gash of a smile wasn’t just out of character, it was absolute creepsville” inject wit and levity into the somber storyline. Ultimately, this is a novel about belief—believing in yourself, your friends, your family and the future—“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”

While the storyline is more than a little convoluted, the well-choreographed, thematically powerful conclusion, coupled with the deeply developed characters of Olivya and Mikah, make this a memorable read.

Pub Date: Oct. 17th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1600431029
Publisher: Parker
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2011


IndieDEFENDERS OF RADES by Carol Blackhurst
by Carol Blackhurst