Magic meets machine in this pre-apocalyptic future earth. We follow as childhood friends Laurence and Patricia navigate coming of age and into their own as the dark future looms in front of them. Can their complicated relationship survive these tests? Will it save us all or end us?
Coming into this novel knowing that Anders had won a Hugo Award made me a little leery that it might be too sci-fi for me – but I was grossly mistaken. This novel is tightly wound with almost every plot point being significant to the final few. The characters are well drawn out without the typical tropes you see in young adult characters. The interweaving of themes was brilliantly handled and left a lasting impression on me.
The first third of the novel is a bit hard to get through – BUT – is completely necessary for the remainder of the novel. Every time I started to think Anders could have pulled back a little those agonizing moments had big meaning toward the end.
There were some time jumps that were a little jarring. These time jumps also left some holes that weren’t filled in. There is also the plotline of ASSASSIN that was teased and opened up in the first third of the novel but then left for dead for the remainder, much like his character.
Also, while the end of the novel isn’t a pretty wrapped up box (much appreciated) I felt it was almost too open to feel contented. Perhaps that’s intentional but it continues to nag at the back of my mind.
Putting aside the very interesting plotlines of the progression of technology to a doomsday device and the existence of magic and how it helps save the world, I want to focus on the interpersonal plotline of acceptance. Surprisingly this plotline also includes technology and magic (which is why this novel is so good).
The restrictive nature and neglect of Laurence’s parents and the outright physical and mental abuse of Patricia’s parents led to both of them being outsiders within their own cloistered communities of peers. Each character stood out as ‘other’ within these secretive and regulated groups and both were given the impression that while their talent was appreciated it needed to be regulated. As such they spend a majority of the novel grappling with the idea of denying their full potential. It isn’t until the world starts to actually turn apocalyptic that their two universes collide (both with the best of intentions) and they must both use their full potential – but against each other. We, the reader, are briefly left with the notion that unleashing your inner most self will ultimately be your downfall.
Yet, as the world starts to crumble around them Patricia and Lawrence find each other once again. Both now knowing what the other is capable of they still can’t help but find acceptance of one another. Ultimately because they can accept the other for everything that they are it is the love they share that saves the world. They would have never been able to come to a place where Peregrine and the Tree could find each other if they had not always known the true nature of the other first.
It’s kind of complicated to get there, but I feel like it is a powerful and important message. We really must love each and every person in our lives for exactly who they are – not who we want them to be, or some shade of that. Full acceptance is love, and in this current intolerable environment I can’t think of more important message to give.
Rating: 5 Stars
Reasoning: Wonderfully executed idea with authentic characters and a lasting message.
Recommended For: Sci-Fi fans, technology fans, magic fans, young adult fans, anyone needing a book they can’t put down!