When I picked up this book after looking at the description, I thought that it would be a run-of-the-mill dystopian novel. Boy was I wrong!
There were parts of the book which had me going, “What? That did not just happen! This is impossible.” There are some hard-to-believe segments in the book if you are expecting a normal story grounded in reality. But once you accept the fact that this is mainly a science fiction / fantasy novel, things start to get very interesting.
This novel is set in a dystopian world where a pandemic is raging. All over the world, cancer has gripped people and is progressing at an alarmingly fast rate with no traditional treatments working against it. In this situation, a new business which helps suffering people die in peace has sprung up. The protagonist, Olivya’s home has been converted into a hospice, catering to such patients.
Olivya is portrayed as a teenage girl who wants to maintain a semblance of normalcy in this messed-up world. She is quite stubborn and independent, does not listen to anyone most of the times, and is hugely confident in herself and her abilities. Her ‘colourful’ language had me laughing at times. Her deceased Japanese father had trained her in martial arts, and she does have skills with a nagamaki. But above all, her defining characteristic is that she can see other people’s auras, which enables her to see how a person is feeling, what emotions are welling up inside of him.
Her love interest is Mikah, a kindred. Kindred are supposed to be descendants of a demon, and tend to not mingle with regular humans. They each have certain abilities which no normal human would have. Mikah’s ability is that he is a powerful telempath who can alter a person’s emotions. His love for Olivya comes out on many occasions as he disregards his elders to meet her, and attempts to protect her on numerous occasions as they both face immense danger throughout the book.
The book is littered with mythical creatures, all of which have been beautifully woven into the story. The authors come up with a unique explanation for their existence in our world, making them extremely real and weaving them into the history of the planet rather than the stories in which they have, till now belonged.
There are a lot of other strong characters in the book, whose allegiance is always under doubt. There is no way of knowing who the bad guy really is, until the very last page of the book. Let’s start with the Neo-Twins, Kaiman and Ash, who are ‘bad guys’ personified, mocking Mikah and pushing him to make mistakes. It is quite easy to hate them. Then there is Mrs Wright-Ono, Olivya’s mother, who is extremely strict, but her love comes through in all the rules and boundaries she sets. She does try to raise Olivya well, but keeps running headlong into walls of resistance from her. Chanagrai, Mikah’s father figure is extremely wise because of the millennia of experience he has (that’s right, millennia!). Prime is the leader of the kindred and we do not know much about him for large parts of the book, other than that he is a ‘monster’ and is feared by Mikah. And last, the largest character of the book, Lylobriel. He is the ‘alien’ in the book, but is extremely humane. Lylobriel and Morfexio (the other alien) are the perfect example of what friends should be like. Of course, any more description would be considered a spoiler.
I will not be going into any description of the story, as it would give away too much of the fun in the book. So, NO SPOILERS. I’ll just let you know that this story is spread over millennia of the earth’s history. Be ready to be introduced with mythical creatures, aliens, mystics and all the other wonderful science fiction characters. Even with this parade of characters, none of them will feel out of place, or unnecessarily included.
Well, we’re coming to the end of my review and you still don’t know what the story is about? That means I have achieved my aim! But know this, the story is about how all the characters join together to defeat the pandemic and return earth to normalcy.
The twists and turns in this book really made my head spin, and story kept moving into unthinkable directions. These unexpected changes kept me hooked and there is not a single part, where I could say that I had anticipated the authors’ moves beforehand. This according to me is a huge compliment and testament to the authors’ wild and uninhibited imaginations, as most stories tend to run along fairly regular lines and end up in ways that everyone expects. As the story progressed, I kept increasing the number of stars I would give it, and the mega-finale finally pushed this book into five-star category.
Note: I have posted an interview with the authors here.