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Oct. 24, 2017
A Review By Chris Fried
In this novel, the second of The Delphi Trilogy, we pick up the action directly after the end of The Delphi Effect. Anna, Aaron, Deo, and Taylor are on the run from the bad guys and Anna is still reeling from previous events. Devising a plan with the help of their supporters, they investigate adults who went through a governmental experimentation program that gave them special powers. But their children, the next generation who also gained powers, as a result, are the ones the Delphi Project want to get their hands on. Anna and her crew, working with other teams, go to rescue as many as possible to prevent them from being discovered, abducted or killed. Will Anna and her group succeed in rescuing everyone who has abilities?
As the second book in the series, the plot definitely thickens, the resistance against the Delphi Project grows and we learn more about the mastermind behind all of this and their nefarious plans. The ringleader, though it doesn’t seem like it out in public, is Senator Ron Cregg, who is also running for president. But in a surprising turn of events, he and his cronies are also engaging in a war of public relations, doing unexpected things in talking about the Delphi program and its history playing out on the media stage. What is their game here?
The machinations of Cregg and his son Graham become more complicated with their secret agenda. These different turns of the plot are especially twisty. The way the author incorporates a deeper history of the Delphi Project and its desire to create people with abilities and weaponize them is an intriguing mystery. These qualities are one of the many things I enjoy about her storytelling. It keeps you guessing, has many different twists to it and is very unpredictable with each passing chapter. This is very apparent in the final chapters, which showcase an effective use of strategy, ability, and suspense. It also culminates in a series of suspenseful events which made me breathless with anticipation. The tension made me grab the arms of my chair tautly and my eyes were wide as I raced to see what would happen next and how it would all end.
The creative use of powers also keeps things fresh and unpredictable. Anna, hosting several guests inside her head now instead of just one, is new to her. How this seventeen-year-old can manage them all, how their powers manifest in her and how she uses this ability throughout the novel is delightful and innovative. I’ve read stories about characters who have this ability. However, I’ve never read about a character that has this many houseguests taking up space in her head before and the complications it causes her personally make for some uncomfortable moments. It also makes for some truly awesome moments as well, when she needs to utilize their insights to get out of tough spots. As a reader, I really felt Anna’s struggle to handle all of her guests, try to maintain her sanity, grow closer to Aaron and trying to save other people. That’s a lot for an adult to handle, let alone a seventeen-year-old.
Anna isn’t the only one with powers we meet in this novel. Since we’re meeting kids with all sorts of abilities, it makes for a wide variety of situations, both dangerous and frantic. From mind readers to those who can ignite fires with their mind to telekinetic abilities, there is plenty of trouble to go around and manage under one roof once they start coming together and marshaling their forces.
Speaking of Anna, she becomes even more well-rounded in this novel, learns some important information about her past and starts to come into her own as a young adult burdened with unusual abilities. As she learns the extent of her powers and their limits, she’s tested like she’s never been before with all the people she’s picked up in her head. From Jaden, someone who has visions of the future, to Hunter, a young kid who wants to make sure his sister is all right, and more, they are all distinct personalities, have idiosyncrasies and are fully developed characters. They all have an important role to play in this novel, despite their lack of corporeal form.
We continue to see Anna’s romance with Aaron develop as well. Not to be left behind, Aaron’s sister Taylor gets to share some startling revelations as well as demonstrating the pain underneath her fiery personality. And Deo, Anna’s best friend and brother figure, gets to do quite a bit in this story as well. He is a very nuanced portrait of a teenager developing his own identity despite a past filled with heartache. He also provides some strong pop culture references and moments of levity in between the intensity of the job they are all trying to accomplish. And I love how the author brought back one of my favorite supporting characters, Dr. Kelsey, into the fold again. Her jo is an important one: provide counseling to those without powers and to those with powers they don’t know how to manage.
Thematically, there is an undercurrent of fear against those who have abilities as they are considered freaks of nature. People are afraid of what they don’t understand and whether or not these abilities should be considered a gift or a curse is intelligently explored while being deftly interwoven throughout the novel. As children and teens who have abilities, it’s a difficult tightrope for them to walk, just trying to control themselves and not harm others in the process. Teaching them to view their powers as a strength instead of as a weakness is one of the many difficult struggles they all face while trying to stay alive against overwhelming odds and an enemy who seems like they can track you no matter where you go. Since this series can be described as the X-Men meets the X-Files, these themes are delicately and thoroughly explored in a satisfying way.
There are a lot of questions I had and this novel answers many of them in ways I would never have expected while also making me look forward to the third and final novel in this trilogy to see how the author wraps it all up. There’s lot of loose ends, government conspiracies, children in danger and bad guys to face down before everything is said and done. The second novel in a trilogy can be a tricky thing. The author has to expand on the overarching plot, develop the characters further and entice the reader to want to read more and I think the author has accomplished all of these things. This is the second series of battles in the larger war being waged here between Cregg, Anna, and their respective allies and I cannot wait to see how it all concludes.
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