Five teens—who may not be teens—or human—are confined like prisoners to a boarding school, staffed by menacing guardians. Told in the 1 st person, by Amelia, the perspective is often that of a bright teenager, commenting with clear-sighted cynicism on all she sees. Engaged by her candid voice, slowly readers become aware that Amelia and the others may have psi powers, but not be reliable narrators. They have forgotten much, and so struggle not to drink the mind-altering concoctions of sinister Dr. Fell. Their fate may depend on what happens during the meeting of the board of governors, and the long recitation of the attendants’ peculiarities identifies them as the old gods of Olympus. There is much to admire: The air of menace, skulking in darkened hallways, traversing hidden passages, and plotting against their suppressors. Unfortunately these shivery Gothic trappings are interspersed with passages of great tedium, and by large hunks of scientific speculation: “I lay in bed trying to calculate what degree of curvature in the fourth dimension a plane figure with two right angles would need to have in order to have lines built on those angles also be at right angles to each other. It occurred to me that two lines could be drawn on the surface of a sphere, intersecting at right angles at the North and South poles, and still be parallel at the equator. A third line following the equator also would intersect at right angles.” While much of the language is too technical, and unlike teen speak, the characters’ curiosity, prickly loyalty to each other, and their emerging interest in the opposite sex, seem familiar. Hostages and pawns in a cosmic war, one fears all is surely lost at book’s end—except the next installment is advertised as Fugitives of Chaos.
Author: John C. Wright
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates Books, 2005
Reviewer: Holly Sanhuber, Muskego Public Library