Growing up I loved Margaret Peterson Haddix. She was the first author I knew was an author and actively sought out her books no matter what they were about. It all arose from my love of Running Out of Time, which I feel I should reread, and that was technically a school book. Then I loved the Among the series. I read two of those books and for a kid with no attention span to wait for new releases that was a big deal. Margaret Peterson Haddix is probably why I love my books to blend mystery with either science fiction or fantasy.
So when I saw her new book as a Goodreads giveaway, I jumped on it so fast. Then I won it and I was beyond thrilled. Yet, I was nervous diving back in to her writing. What if I didn’t enjoy the story. It is middle grade, what if I just wouldn’t enjoy it. That definitely didn’t turn out to be the case because I absolutely fell in love with this book.
I went into the book with very little idea about what the book was about. I knew that it was about twins and their mother was getting remarried. I also figured it was a science fiction story based on the physical cover(inside the jacket) having some techy nodes on the spine. That’s it and that’s all I will tell you is that yes in fact this is middle grade science fiction. Some of the fun of this story is going on the journey with the characters.
The mystery unfolds in a way that constantly had me asking new questions. It was a steady stream of one question answered only to open up new questions. That pace kept me in a loop of excitement and lulls and it really worked for the story. There wasn’t very much action, but there were a lot of great exchanges between characters that made the story interesting.
The real heart of the story are the two young protagonists, Nick and Eryn. They are twins who are very much alike and very different. They are quite the delightful pair when they are off on missions together. They balance each other in a way that really works. Eryn is smart and intuitive. Nick is certainly not done, but he processes the information he’s given and acts. It makes for some interesting switches on what you would expect from the two siblings. Eryn stirs the pot and Nick tries to fix things and make it okay.
The book toyed with some really interesting themes especially involving growing up and what it meant to be human. I can’t really say much more than that without spoiling anything, but the way it was handled was really well done.
My only major gripe is that the adults in the story, aside from their mother, didn’t feel as fleshed out as they could have been. We slowly saw some of their goals, but they still felt distant in a way that should have slowly changed. I’m sure we’ll get more in the future, but as of this book it felt like not enough of the characters were fleshed out for me to form enough attachments. As it was I got very attached to Nick and Eryn, but honestly couldn’t care what happened to any of the other characters. Considering that they will factor a lot into the emotional struggles the twins will face in the future, I feel like I needed that connection.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to love the book. Half way through I had sort of resigned this read to being a 3.5 read. However the end of the really elevated the story. I also realized that I didn’t want the story to be over. I desperately wanted to know what happened next and it’s that sort of feeling that I love getting from books. I wasn’t just curious, but actively frustrated that I’d need to wait for the next book.
On the plus side, I’m now old enough to not let this drift from my mind and I will be reading the next book in the series because there is more and I can’t freaking wait.