“They say every child has an imaginary friend. Mine never left.”
And so goes the inspiration for the novella The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson. Fern Johnson has an imaginary friend who has been with her since she was eight years old, when a trauma that even Fern can’t remember or face left her terrified and alone. Now nineteen and taking care of her young niece, Fern doesn’t have time for Tristan and his fantasy worlds and messages of doom.
Or does she? After all, skyscrapers don’t just sink into the ground by themselves, as FBI agent Barstow reminds her. But that’s just what’s happening in Los Angeles.
And Tristan warned Fern about it.
Could Tristan—and all his stories—possibly be more than imaginary? Could Fern really see into a world that no one else can? And just what would the wrong person give to be able to see the way she does?
This is one of a few books I’ve read that I can say is truly whimsical. There’s something beautiful about the imagination presented in the story. The book is eerily vivid, full of strong characters and beautiful prose—the first time Fern had a “hallucination” and saw the beam slicing through the floor, I actually looked around my living room just to check and felt my heart jump a little. I saw just what Fern saw.
I could not put this book down and my heart pounded through it all. The ending was so very sad . . . leading to a soaring resolution that I would love to detail more, but SPOILERS.
I also loved how the author portrayed different aspects of mental health—anxiety, depression, trauma, etc., things that everyone struggles with to different degrees—without making the characters seem broken, in need of fixing. It was a very encouraging perspective on the topic.
I cannot think of anything negative about this story. Seriously.
This is truly one of the best reads I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying this year. This little book is certainly worth your while—truth be told, we all need an encouragement to jump into the impossible and see what the world has forgotten to see.
How would you live if you knew the day you'd die?
Because Parvin Blackwater actually does, thanks to the Clock by her bedside. Everyone has them now--government-issued Clocks that count down to the day they die. And her Clock tells her she's got one more year left.
What's one more year when she's wasted seventeen of them?
What can she do in one year that will make her remembered forever?
It's perfectly logical, isn't it? Become her own biographer, of course!
Of course, I don't think she was intending that to include crossing the wall from her home to the uncharted worlds of the West. Or stumbling across an invention that could change the Clock system forever. Or gathering a Radical army to bring the wall down.
Let me start out by saying I have never read anything quite like the Out of Time trilogy before. I'd never read a dystopian book. I'd never read a science fiction book. I'd never read a futuristic book. So there was a certain weird factor to get past. In some things, Parvin's society has advanced from ours. In others, it's regressed.
But once I got my feet under me, I started on the journey with Parvin. It is a journey, so sometimes I read a page and wondered how exactly that was relevant to the rest of the story (hint: it was, I just had to read further). I lost track of how many characters Parvin met along her journey, each of them unique and vibrant. And let's not forget Parvin's voice as she narrates the journey! Her character arc from the insecure girl in the first book is incredible. Each book in the trilogy got better both in style and in plot, and that's saying something because the first one was excellent.
One of the things I found most interesting about this book was the characters' view of mercy--even when it comes to their enemies. The characters choose not to participate in riots, give their enemies second chances, even going so far as to take a wounded villain to the nearest town . . . by dogsled. It's a refreshing change, in all fiction, but young adult fiction especially.
By the end of the trilogy, Parvin doesn't have all the answers. And the answers she does have, she went through a lot to learn. Sometimes she makes mistakes. Big mistakes. And we learn from them, just as she does. We learn what it truly means to live. The Out of Time trilogy will live on in your thoughts long after you've read it . . . and maybe, just maybe it will change your life.
Hi there! Rachel again. Check out this section for book reviews and cover reveals of some of my favorites!