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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Sheridan & Taylor are far from home with no hope of ever getting back. They were yanked 400 years into the future and now must work together to find a way out of the city before the new controlling government can orders the crystal tracking implants to be surgically implanted or, worse, decide they can't risk the liability of the girls and order their memory erased. The only way out of the city is to trust Echo, a future boy with more secrets than they can ever hope to uncover. Without him they are lost, but with him, they may end up in worse trouble. Can they trust him?
Though this book has vaguely caught my eye in the past, it wasn't until I learned that C J Hill is a pseudonym for Janette Rallison that I really grew interested in it. I have only read one of her books, but it was full of sparkling wit that kept me giggling the entire novel, yet somehow still managing to be heartfelt. Once that little tidbit was revealed, I was super-excited to see what she did in this dystopian. Would her humor translate to the new genre? The answer is yes! It really does, so, even though this is a serious dystopian, with all the serious issues that entails, Hill's/Rallison's humor still shines through. We get much more than her humor here, with a depth to the story that I wasn't entirely expecting. I knew the writing would be competent, but I wasn't quite expecting the world to pull me in the way it did.
Something else I loved was that the main character was the "normal" twin. Sheridan is not stupid by any stretch of the imaginations, but her sister Taylor is overly intelligent, graduating from college before her eighteenth birthday. Sheridan is still in high school with plans to pursue a degree in literature when they are pulled into the future. Feeling even more out of place because she doesn't have the scientific mind of her sister and she isn't pestering people with questions, just trying to take it all in. She is the one who comes up with the majority of the ideas and she is the one they end up relying on in the end. Something that should have bothered me but didn't was how religious Sheridan is. Somehow Hill manages to write a preacher's kid who is devote in her belief without coming off as pushy. Imagine my surprise, right? From the moment Sheridan mentions her beliefs, I prepared for the inevitable push of religious beliefs onto the audience. It was almost like I could feel it coming, but it never really did. Bravo, to say the least.
Then we had Echo****SPOILER****Or should I say Joseph?****END SPOILER**** He was a bit of a conundrum before we learn his big secret. He claims to not be part of the local gang, but knows all about them, even the deep secret stuff. He swears to protect Sheridan, but doesn't really back it up in the beginning. He tells them one thing in his translations, but says something completely different when he speaks to everyone else in the new English. He is a big part of the humor element because of his mistake beliefs and ideas of the 21st Century. When he asks about the talking animals, I almost feel in the floor laughing so hard. Once you learn his secret, one that I really didn't see coming by the way, you can't help but empathize with the guy. ****SPOILER****All the lies to pretend to be his brother, stepping into the gang role his brother had played out and deceiving his father. Not to mention having to live with the fact that his brother died for him, right in front of him, and he has to live with that.****END SPOILER**** I just wanted to give the poor guy a hug, not to mention hug the author for the ability to keep the charade up until the very end. The light romance between him and Sheridan was so sweet, especially because she is never the twin that gets a date, they always prefer Taylor.
Taylor is a character I both loved and hated. The bond between the twins is obvious, but sometimes I became really irritated at how she reacted to Sheridan. She looks down on her desire to study literature, believing that science degrees are much more important and the way she treats Sheridan's attraction to Echo ****SPOILER****::coughs:: Joseph****END SPOILER**** was highly irritating. The fact that she is the "smart" one but can't come up with the answers in the end is what redeems her and her anger at Sheridan for always taking her place in dangerous situations.
There are several side characters that all play a role, but really it's all about these three. This was gloriously free of a love triangle, no playing the sisters off each other for their affections or an additional male lead. No major cliffhangers, just the knowledge that the fight to save civilization isn't over, and no insta-love. Sheridan and Echo ****SPOILER****::coughs:: Joseph****END SPOILER****are very attracted to one another, but they don't go beyond the liking phase. It was amazing and refreshing and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next one. I have added all of C J Hill's/Janette Rallison's books to my wishlist....well all the ones that weren't already there and I now truly want to get my hands on Slayers!
That's a bit off the subject. If you are looking for a dystopian a little off the beaten past, this is for you. You are looking for a story to make you smile, this is it as well. If you are looking for a twist you don't see coming, well, do I really need to say it again? This has something for everyone and manages to bring in religion without it being overpowering! What more can you ask for?