|It’s the end of the world as we know it…a bizarre Cataclysm literally destroys everyone and manifests by first stopping all electronic/ electrical energy for over nine minutes and then a few hours laterthe sky goes blinding white and literally crashes into the earth crushing/destroying everything on the planet. A Cataclysm that so far has no explanation.
BUTan unknown number of people survive. They are met by strangers who appear out of nowhere, clamp a silver bracelet to their wrists and tell them don’t move. Then they disappear.
The survivors get to watch the beginning of the end which includes thousands of airplanes falling from the sky. Buildings collapse, people are crushed---while the survivors watch from inside a strange bubble created by their bracelet that encompasses and protects them from the disaster. Then a blinding light obscures the chaos.
We follow six people (and some others) who are shifted out of their time.
What they have survived to is an alternate time line. Not so much the future, just a different Earth. There are flying cars and floating restaurants. They don’t rely on fossil fuels any more. The history of the world is very different---there is very little interchange between nations. (However, most public entertainment has remained lame.)
Price has crafted six main characters (and a wonderful circus of supporting characters) for you to come to grips with as they try to deal with a completely different life. Different money, different mechanics, different history… The imagination here is terrific. The writing has a unique flavor and the dialogue is clever and engaging. The off-center details give wonderful flavor to everything. The “bad” guys (boy, that’s a really murky label) are just as fascinating. We get a little information on them, enough to keep us interested---but as to what their ultimate agendas are, is just out of reach in this novel.
We have Amanda and Hannah Givens who are sisters: Amanda is a nurse in her husbands’ oncology practice, her sister is a local actress in theater, Zack is a young cartoonist, David is Australian whose father was a physicist, Theo was a child prodigy who went to law school at sixteen and then dropped out. He was a wandering alcoholic when he was “saved.”And Mia is fourteen, last of her huge Italian family, bewildered, terrified and with low self-esteem issues.
All of these characters soon discover they have very unique time-manipulating talents that everyone wants to have/control/understand and possibly, destroy. These lost souls have to decide who they should believe and who is out to capture/kill them. Or worse: dissect and experiment on them.
As the six come to grips with their strange new world, their strange new selves, the interplay, the growth, the baggage they carry with them keep you so involved in their story.
The six manifest power astronomically more refined and far-reaching than the current level of time-manipulation. Of course, they have a grindingly terrible time dealing with the appearance of these talents. There is lots of backfiring as they hone their control.
Burdened with their strange gifts, they go on a journey from Southern California to
to find a man who they believe will help and protect them. Their travels are harrowing and heart-stopping, especially since a few of the people who are hunting/manipulating them can literally pop out of nowhere.
Trust me, there is a lot happening here.
It boils down to multiple timelines and finding the one where Earth survives (or avoids) another upcoming Cataclysm out of the million threads/paths the world can take. The proverbial tiny needle in a haystack.
Seriously. If you love science fiction this needs to be the next book you read. The writing and the characters are so worth the price.
(And there will be a sequel.) ~~ Sue Martin