Sunday, 16 June 2013

#CBR5 Book 56. "Quicksilver" by R.J. Anderson

Page count: 400 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars

Quicksilver is the sequel to Ultraviolet, and while you might be able to read it as a stand-alone, I wouldn't recommend it, as I doubt it would be as satisfying a read.

Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenage girl could want. Beauty, popularity, money. Then she disappeared, without a trace, for several months, only to be returned, bruised and with a broken nose, with no apparent memory of where she'd been or who'd taken her there. With her is Alison, the girl who was suspected of murdering her, and who spent much of the time of Tori's disappearance in a mental institution. During the investigation of her disappearance, certain strange medical results turned up as a result of DNA testing. Tori and her parents are getting calls from a genetics lab, and one police investigator in particular, refuses to believe that Tori has no recollection of what happened to her.

Tori and her parents relocate, and change their names, all to protect her secret. Being the centre of attention is no longer an option. She needs to stay as anonymous as possible, which seems to be going well, until Sebastian Faraday, a man she thought she'd never see again, suddenly appears in her bedroom, warning her of danger to come. Her new friend Milo, who already suspects that everything is not entirely is what it seems with Nikki (which is what Tori calls herself in her new life) and is dragged along on an adventure beyond his wildest dreams.

In Ultraviolet, told from Alison's perspective, Tori seems like your typical popular, rich Mean Girl, and it's only towards the end of the book that Alison discovers why Tori why so hostile towards her, and never seemed to like her. The two form a genuine friendship in the dramatic last third of that book, but in order to protect her new friend, as well as the truth of her identity, Tori has to move away from the little town that's always been her home. No longer the Queen Bee in school, she becomes as anonymous as possible, with a new hairstyle, contact lenses, a very non-glamorous part time job and home schooling. Reinventing herself isn't just a curse for Tori, though. Becoming Nikola (after Nikola Tesla - yay!) opens up opportunities she's never had before. Always striving to hide her secret, and please her parents, Tori/Nikki has never really had a chance to explore who she really is and wants to become.

While I came to really like Alison, I pretty much loved Tori/Nikki from the start. She's an amazing young adult heroine - smart, strong, capable, caring. She's also openly asexual, something you don't normally see in novels, and the strong friendship between her and Milo (who is the best sidekick/supporter anyone could wish for), rather than yet another star-crossed romance, is all the more refreshing.

This book is tense, and action packed, and funny and I loved the characters. The danger to Tori/Nikki is genuine, and she has to use all of her considerable genius to try to find a solution, which she does, without needing anyone else to save her. She does have to realise that occasionally requiring help from friends, doesn't make her any weaker. If the last third of the previous book was unexpected and tense, this one was pretty much insane. I think I audibly gasped at one point, because even though it was clear what had to happen, I still didn't think the author would go there. The only reason that I'm deducting half a star from my rating of the book, is that I don't like the way Anderson leaves one of the supporting characters at the end of this book. If that is the resolution to the danger to Alison and Tori, then I'm not sure I'm happy. With everything that's been established over the course of the two books, it's not a good situation for this character to be in, and I wish the story could have been resolved some other way. It's a minor niggle, though, this book is great. Go - read both of them!

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