A modern-day Connecticut teenager suddenly shifts dimensions into an alternative America where she finds herself in the body of a love-struck princess in a danger-prone kingdom of intrigues, outlaws and strange creatures.
Jade Beckett is a 17-year-old Connecticut girl still recovering emotionally from the recent cancer death of her mom when a freak storm whisks her into a parallel existence. Jade is an unknowing “transcender,” a person with an innate ability to shift between timelines in presumably infinite alternate realities. Now she’s “Princess Jaden,” imperiled royalty in a strange counterpart of Earth that was devastated by a comet collision hundreds of years ago. Humanity’s tenuous survival has turned civilization into a semifeudal, semitechnological world of quibbling domed city-states. Jaden is immediately embroiled in intrigues between the assorted monarchies as well as delirious, virginity-threatening romance with her true soul mate, Ryder, a hunky half-Cherokee chief-in-training from an apparently enemy nation. Along with this comes the side benefit/curse that Jaden’s mother is alive in this universe, but she’s an imperious queen who treats Ryder the way the Sheriff of Nottingham regarded Robin Hood. Furthermore a mysterious “agent” from a largely unseen transdimensional regulation group keeps reminding Jade(n) that her presence here is a cosmic fluke and that she will have to put aside Ryder and her mom and return home once the agency patches things up. It all ends in a cliffhanger that should keep involved readers salivating for the next installment. Savage is a skilled storyteller (if a little heavy on the pacing and dialogue side), and she knows her stuff well enough to effectively tease the demographic with a subtle Twilight inside-joke. It’s a good move that the Savage fantasy world depicted is no Disney-storybook landscape of unicorns, faeries and mermaids (though elflike mutants and other crypto-creatures make somewhat puzzling cameos). Jade is a likable, media-savvy heroine, even granted that her tae kwon do powers tend to wax and wane as a given situation or abduction demands. There are a plethora of walk-on side characters (oftentimes curvy, gorgeous, potential-rival teen-queens) whose full roles in the drama presumably unfold in upcoming Transcender books, and fans who follow this story to its climax will welcome those installments.
While a little slow and formulaic in fits, this girl-power jaunt into high adventure and romance in a parallel universe launches a promising new trilogy in YA fantasy.