One word, WOW. I realize that is pretty base, but this book was a complete surprise. Being the prolific reader that I am there is so much I want to say about how thrilled I am about this book and series! The proses are lyrical and the style adds to the story itself since it is a mystical journey of "becoming".
The novel is an epic/alternate historical/fantasy story. Yep it is definitely a mouthful alright. I thought long and hard about it, read a bunch of reviews, which some even put into the young adult category (which I completely disagree with) and could only come to this, which of course I am not even sure it works there!
On the surface it is a story about a 28-year-old woman, Allie Taylor, who after being found under a bridge in San Francisco and adopted grew leading a pretty typical San Franciscan life. Her world is tight-knit with a brother whom she adores, a great BFF who keeps her on her toes, a despondent mother whom she loves despite everything and her deceased father who she misses so hard it hurts. On her days off she sketches and draws. Her sketches are of many things, except for a particular thematic image, one she cannot shake from her mind no matter how many times she draws it. One that will become something unimaginable cataclysmic for our girl Allie. At work she is a typical waitress who struggles not to drop your order or screw up the coffee mater. Serving up Diner fare to the regulars and even a few stalkers, one who ends up becoming someone entwined in her journey of discovery of who and what she really is.
With epic car chases, hiding out with prostitutes, Nazi sympathizers (or are they?) and even a moment straight out of Titanic! The world J.C. created is wrought with the fear of otherness , xenophobia to the nth power, and plots within plots. People seem to be living in constant fear using avatars instead of their images on the television, even the U.S. President! (but there is a very good reason he does! Wanna know why? OH Sweetie, I don't do spoilers!) Big brother has a whole new meaning when you have to prove you are human with a Capital H! Giving blood at check points, having identification cards, it reminded me a little of the world from Dark Angel, minus the post apocalyptic aspects and the fact that Seers are really another race, not genetically enhanced humans, in fact they are a pretty amazing race! Oh and the fact that this is not pop culture, this is epic and mind-blowing!
The xenophobia of the race of Seers is frightening. Countries segregate the seers into camps and enslaved, treated as pets because of what one their own did that brought about a catalyst (A commonality Allie shares!) of fear and change in the world conscience, driving many of them to segregated camps and into hiding. With J.C. including an alternate Third Reich history along with the xenophobia made the Fisher-Price Sociologist inside of me prop my glasses at the end of my nose, get out a note pad and start analyzing the different plot lines.
It is never what it seems, even when Allie thinks she is getting the hang of things she learns more that keeps her, and use as readers completely on our toes. I read this as slow as I could to savor the experience. It was just so good I wanted it to last forever. I wanted to learn along with Allie and she discovers the metaphysical world of her race, as she discovers love and romance that is truly out of this world and as she embraces reality in the devastating aspects and meanings about who and what she is.
The world-build's complexity, the dystopia and darkness of the story drew the cheerleader in me out. With many authors protagonists with prophesied destinies the characters tend written and built up into this perfect untouchable individual. But not with Allie. J.C. wrote her to her own woman, an extraordinary young woman yes, but an individual with her own mind. Allie would eat her coffee beans whole and spend all day drawing if she could. She doesn't accept her moirai and does her best to maintain her own path, instead of some 900 year old Seer who is doing his level best to push her along his version of what he believes is her destiny. The characters are rich and full of depth, her writing is poetic and allows you to bond with the characters on a level that not many authors have achieved