An Echo or fade is a human from a parallel Earth who teleports to another Earth at the time of their death. They are weak and as they get weaker they grow transparent. When they come into contact with a human from the other Earth they drain their life energy, usually resulting in the death of the human they are draining, whether intentionally or not. It makes them grow stronger and able to function for a short amount of time between energy feedings.
The book starts out when an Echo named Jake, the Echo 8 of the title, appears and our main character, Tess, tries to explain to him how he came from an alternate Earth, one which has been nearly devastated by an asteroid strike. As things unfold, we start getting the backstory on how this crucial moment fits into the story line.
Tess is a parapsychologist working for Seattle Psi where she studies psychic phenomena, but nothing in her training has prepared her for human-like beings appearing from out of nowhere, sucking the life force out of anyone near them. Jake is confined at Seattle Psi for study by a special task force and when he drains life energy from Tess, almost killing her in the process, two worlds are affected and a bond is created between them that neither expected. Finally, Ross is an FBI agent ordered to protect Tess while she studies the Echoes. They had met at a prior function, where his opinion on her work soured her. Having to work closely with him doesn't make her job easier, but feelings eventually develop. The romantic triangle between the three main characters built nicely and was thought-out and well-written.
Tess's job is to investigate and study how the Echoes keep appearing, who and what they are, and most importantly why they are draining the energy and life out of those who come into contact with them. The scientific community want to know the answers so they can figure out the best way to keep people safe and to study this unprecedented phenomenon. The military, on the other hand, have ideas of their own, just how they can use the Echoes to their advantage, as spies and assassins.
Ross is torn between his feelings for Tess, keeping her safe, and the job he was sent to do by the government. Tess is torn between her feelings for Ross, her protectiveness over Jake and her unhappiness over being kept prisoner in the Seattle Psi facility by the military.
As the romance between Ross and Tess progresses and Tess and Jake's bond grows deeper, an unexpected side effect occurs: Tess teleports to the alternate Earth, during an intimate moment between her and Ross. It is the beginning of a slippery slope of good vs bad in this romantic sci-fi thriller.
The story and plot are well-written. Sharon Lynn Fisher makes the science believable to the common reader and does a nice job of building a parallel but devastated Earth. Those who look for more in-depth science and technology in a sci-fi book may find this a bit glossed over to their tastes.
I really enjoyed Fisher's style of writing and her character development. I look forward to reading more by her, especially if she writes a sequel. In the meantime, I think I'll go and check out some of her previous books ~~ Dee Astell