Rating: 2 1/2 stars
After being orphaned, Fia and her older sister Annie find themselves at a special school.
With promises of a good education and medical assistance for Annie, Fia agrees to attend the Keane School despite her entire body screaming that it’s wrong. Not long after their arrival, the girls realize that they’re nothing more than pawns in a dangerous game being played by the school’s owner.
Even though she’s younger, Fia always seems to know that right thing to do. Led by her intuition, she can determine the right action to take at a moments notice. While Annie has been blind since birth, she occasionally has visions of the future—one such vision was of the fatal car accident that would claim their parents.
By the time the girls realize the school is only interested in exploiting their abilities, it’s too late. With little hope for escape Fia is forced to use her gift in horrible, and often deadly ways. To refuse will cost Annie her life.
Kiersten White takes a little detour from the lighter fare of her Paranormalcy trilogy and attempts to write a dark and intense thriller—an attempt that feels half-hearted.
Told in an alternating non-lineal narrative structure that exhibits a lack of depth and a surplus of momentum-killing and poorly-placed flashbacks, all while being mired in endless repetition.
From Fia’s often random mutterings about her hands and her OCD tap, tapping, to the constant reminders of the sisters’ bond and fearing for the other’s life, patience for this already lean novel quickly wears thin.
Despite a few character flaws, Fia is at least fairly solid and serves a productive purpose, while Annie feels like little more than a carrot on a stick used to motivate Fia to cooperate. Annie’s life will be spared as long as Fia plays the game. Fia’s decision to contemplate suicide at one point practically illustrates the point that her own sister is nothing more than a weight around her neck.
Seemingly satiated by her persistent reiteration, Ms. White doesn’t take the time to delve into anything of significance, but instead chooses to tell the reader what they need to know, rather than allow them to experience it.
Overall, the series looks to have plenty of potential, however, if Ms. White plans to write about espionage, bombing, brutal violence, and girls who kick ass, she needs to leave all that candy-coated sweetness behind her, put on her big girl pants and commit to making this series the psychological thrill-fest that she promised.
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen (February 19, 2013)