Welcome to the 2016 Cybils Speculative Reader!
As a first run reader for the Cybils, I'll be briefly introducing you to the books on the list, giving you a mostly unbiased look at some of the plot.
Time travel! Ghosts! Plotting adults! Secret facilities! Teens Who Save The Day! All your favorite adventure catnip rolled up into one book, kitties! This novel, the first in a trilogy, jumpstarts, and doesn't quit.
Synopsis: Anna has only a year left in the foster care system, and her bestie and heartbrother, Deo, has three. Anna was left in a mall, clutching an Orange Julius cup with her name and a warning pinned to her dress when she was just a toddler, and Deo's got scars from injuries sustained before he could walk. They've been both bounced around so many times that they're pretty determined to first, stay where they are, and second, stay together, as the chosen-family they are. It's hard for Anna, though, since she sometimes - okay, frequently - speaks to ghosts. On one hand, they're responsible for the extra help in getting through high school and into junior college well before other kids her age. On the other hand, her "hitchers" occasionally are unfriendly or angry, and once one tried to hijack her body to finish the unfinished business which has tied them to the earth. After months of a stubborn hitcher named Molly badgering her to contact Molly's grandpa, Anna's desperate to get rid of her. She was murdered - and her grandfather doesn't believe in things paranormal. Anna's been following him, begging to be heard - and he's been talking -- and that talk has attracted trouble just a bit too close. He's been shot - and someone is shooting at Anna, too. And it seems that the people who've come to "help" may not all be as helpful as she thought. Someone is leaking information to the police - and maybe someone else. Anna's not safe anywhere -- and it turns out that neither is her passenger ghost. Using her own resources, Anna flees -- and then Deo disappears...
Suddenly, all the mysteries in the world don't matter. Anna's family is on the line, and she will do anything to get him back - make any promise, take any chance, break any rule.
Observations: Each year there are several horror novels nominated. This year there were three significant ones with the blood-spattered covers. One was... just gross, the other a bit over the top. One made me roll my eyes. This novel wasn't one of the horror picks but this to me comes closest to the true definition of the word. Hitchhikers in your head is probably number one on the list of Things People With Mental Health Challenges Fear, so shudder, with a side of yikes. Walker writes utterly engaging, utterly believable characters. The minute you open the door to this story, you're in -- the dialogue is perfectly reasonable, the strained patience with which Anna has to deal with a disbelieving public, the weird quirks of the world in which she lives are all beautifully believable. Her characterizations just work.
This review, in an attempt to avoid spoilers, spends a lot of time on inconsequentials, but these, in part, are the things which make this a really vivid and engaging story. And it is an entire story - it does end, although, you know there's much more to come. Which is going to be serious adventure catnip for someone!
For those who want to know, there is mutual attraction in this novel,
Conclusion: Book One in the Chronos Files trilogy, we've got a bit more of this world and these characters to explore before it's over. Look for more in 2017, I think. If you love a fast-paced novel about kids who are best-friends-turned family, with a little nascent romance thrown in for fun... have I got a book for you.
I received my copy of this book courtesy of the publisher. You can find THE DELPHI EFFECT by Rysa Walker at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!