Aurik hears voices. They’re in his head all the time. It’s weird, but not as weird as when his father can hear his innermost thoughts. He’s got The Change — a worldwide condition of the young, brought on by a thoughtless scientific experiment years earlier.
This is the premise that drives the story of what happens when the earth is kicked back almost a century in technology, forced to live once again by the barter system and constantly on the lookout for the warning signs that signal the DNA resequencing unique to The Change.
Author Noel Thomas Fiems brings a complicated quantum theory backstory to life as we follow a driven, yet kindly, scientist father and his only surviving son, at work in the Adirondack Mountains repairing broken items for neighbors after The Split — the cataclysmic event that is bringing about The Change.
Nineteen-year-old Aurik heads out through the dense forest to The Island, where doctors and clinicians have gathered to perform operations on those who aren’t yet fully consumed by The Change. But will such an operation make Aurik’s voices go away?
While Aurik seeks a way through the mountains, federal forces are trying to collect him for “special” study. It seems his DNA results are worthy of much closer scrutiny, and they’ll do anything to capture him.
Meanwhile, Aurik picks up a couple of traveling companions on the trail, and they all go in search of a guide who can get them through a mysterious forest that stands between Aurik and his destination. Among other dangers, it harbors vicious packs of virulently mutated wolves.
The author turns a good phrase now and then amidst the adventure. He describes the uneasy yet peaceful quiet of the forest that lies ahead of them:
“The sun’s rays sliced through the tops of the trees in the back of the clearing, casting thousands of individual beams. Before hitting the forest floor, they reflected off floating pollen and dust; the air was on fire. The quiet reminded Aurik of the Notre Dame in Paris.”
Why are the wolves hunting Aurik? Their dark secret harbors fierce thoughts of revenge. “The beast landed on the ground quietly. The size of a steer, its tail flicked out behind it. . .”
And what of The Island? Will Aurik and his friends arrive safely? And what will they find there?
Five stars to this diligently-researched, well-written novel that will appeal to YA readers, post-apocalyptic fans, and science fiction aficionados as well.