In the third book in Smiles’ (Choices, 2013, etc.) sci-fi Rothston series, a young and in love college couple deals with family issues, special powers and a secret international organization that may have a sinister agenda.
At the beginning of Smiles’ new Rothston entry, trust-fund kid Greg Langston and his girlfriend, an “adept named Kinzie Nicolosi,” are back at school, though they’re hardly carefree college students. As Kinzie reminds her beau (and catches up new readers), they just “spent months escaping from a mad scientist who was using [them] for genetic experiments.” Their dangerous, adventurous past was centered on The Rothston Institute, a sort of Hogwarts for “adepts”—individuals with powers that include translocating, “reading into the past” and the ability to “guide” others in their decision-making. Adepts feel both protective of and superior to regular folk, aka “commons.” In spite of Greg’s insistence that “nothing good ever happened” in Rothston, the pair returns to the institute to witness the execution of Bradley Jamison, the man at the heart of Kinzie’s nightmares. Jamison, who had experimented on Kinzie in his lab, has been sentenced to die for his role in the killing of a common newborn during an experiment to create enhanced adepts. After the execution, Jamison’s ghost haunts Kinzie as she searches to understand the origin and location of the mysterious Pierre Rouge, a red stone said to increase the power of adepts. Kinzie, who was raised by her solo dad, also seeks to discover her own origins as she tries to find out the identity of her mother. Meanwhile, Greg, who loves Kinzie more than anything, worries that she expects the answers to have “some fairytale ending.” But, he wonders, what if she finds out otherwise? His concern is justified. Author Smiles easily creates tension, and many chapters have cliffhanger endings that pull readers forward into the story. Having Kinzie take turns with Greg as the narrator in alternating chapters gives the narrative a nice female/male balance while letting the reader understand the story from different points of view. Dialogue is strong, and minor characters prove to be as intriguing as the leads. This is new adult fiction done right.
An adept offering of diverse characters engaged in a suspenseful sci-fi storyline that’s far from common; might even appeal to an audience outside the sci-fi realm.