This teen sci-fi debut features a nerdy heroine who can add and subtract objects from reality.
For Josie Harper’s 17th birthday, her boyfriend dumps her. Worse, she hasn’t seen her father in a month, and her summer internship at a physics lab has fallen through. She misses her deceased brother, Nick, and nothing seems right, until the darkly handsome Reid Wentworth arrives at Oceanside High on his motorcycle. He gets Josie away from her overprotective mother to explain that he—and she, now that she’s of age—have the power to Push reality; they can create inanimate objects at will, contingent on being able to visualize them. They can also Retract objects that have been Pushed, making Reid and Josie Anomalies. The catch is that both gifts draw from a finite reservoir of energy, and depleting it brings mental and physical degeneration. Reid then informs Josie that the Schrodinger Consortium wants to kill them (and others like them, called Oculi), but as a member of the Resistance, he can protect and train her. Josie is reluctant to trust Reid and his partner, Santos, but the more she contemplates her father’s absence and her mother’s work as a neurological researcher, she realizes her life isn’t quite what she thinks it is. Debut author Kuper’s sleek prose—saturated with pop-culture references—invites both nerds and the uninitiated into the world of the Oculi. “Thank Thor,” Josie says, as well as adorably dorky things like “even though he could be an underwear model, I would’ve rather made out with a Romulan.” Nods to quantum theory abound, too, with normal, non-Pushers called “Plancks,” after the physicist. The chemistry between Reid and Josie is solid, despite an underwhelming secret connection. Problematic, however, is Reid’s assertion that “We can’t Push anything with a soul,” meaning anything living or dead; Josie eventually Pushes trees and yet later cannot Push a viral serum. Aside from these slippery details, the narrative redeems itself through great twists and the positive message that reality is ours to shape.
Sweet teen reading for fans of X-Men, Star Trek and all things geeky.