Extraordinary and unforgettable…
Martin blends elements of thriller, science fiction, and teenage drama into a taut YA coming-of-age tale about a young girl struggling to find her bearing in the cozy town of Westbury, Vermont. It’s been four and a half years since Blue entered the foster system to begin afresh after losing her family to a house fire. If the trauma of becoming an orphan at ten-year-old is not enough, her ability to read other people’s minds has wreaked havoc on her psyche, making it hard for her to adjust to her new life as a foster kid. Joining the O’Days as a foster child seems to be working for Blue: she’s gradually able to shed her inhibitions and form an unexpected friendship with Will, the O’Days’ neighbor. But a chance discovery of drug dealing throws Blue in the path of a dangerous psychopath. Martin captures awkward adolescent experiences with perception and sensitivity. Readers will empathize with Blue’s struggles to adjust to her new life in Vermont and cheer her triumphs as she gradually forms bonds with her foster family and Will and finds her footing. With precise skill and insight, Martin gives voice to Blue’s fears and inner turmoil. Her gradual recovery is heartening, while her new relationships and observations about her foster parents, siblings, and friends forms a portrait of a reflective teenager whose life is suddenly changed by connections she never expected to make. The other characters are equally convincing: in Will, Wu, Sam, and Rose, Martin has created a relatable cast of teenagers with real-life fears, self-doubts, insecurities, and individual struggles. The various sub plots interlace as Blue sets on to investigate the local drug dealings and, in the process, finds her own life turns upside down. Readers will delight in the clever manner in which Martin fills in all the holes and ties together seemingly disparate plot threads to bring it to a satisfying ending. The narrative has some serious undercurrents with various YA themes infused into the story, including coming of age, enduring friendship, family ties, PTSD, teenage alienation, opioid epidemic among adolescents, and more. Though the concept of vox adds to the science fiction element, the story is a coming-of-age YA drama at heart. Martin’s keen understanding of adolescent psyche, sharp observations, and lively imagination command steady attention. A dazzling blend of thriller and SF, this is a knockout.
(Vox Oculis #1)
By Frederic Martin
Pub date February 2, 2020
Price $26.99 (USD) Hardcover, $3.18 kindle edition