Behold! I have returned from San Antonius, land of river and tree and cement, and FOOD. Food like this –
It looks pretty enough not to eat, but don’t kid yourself. You will eat it, and then you will thank me later. But we’ll have to save all the delicious reviews of grub, because today my friends, I have another review for you. Today, I’ll be talking about Schism, the new book-baby of my friend Laura Maisano.
The art therapy crap hasn’t done squat for Gabe Jones. A thousand sketches of his fiancée can’t bring his memory, or her, back to him. Nothing on Earth can. His past lies in another dimension, a world just out of sight.
On campus, another student unknowingly shares Gabe’s obsession with the fourth dimension. Lea Huckley must prove this world exists. The monsters from the other side attacked her parents and fled, getting her folks locked up in the loony bin. Finding evidence is the only way to free them.
She and Gabe strike a deal to help each other out, and together they manage to open a door to the world of Gabe’s true origin. She’d use him for proof—if she didn’t already care too much.
While Gabe tries to reconcile his feelings for Lea and his re-discovered memories of his fiancée, a much more sinister plot unravels. He uncovers his history, just in time to become the unwilling linchpin in a conspiracy to start a war. His memory holds the secret the would-be conqueror needs to get the upper hand, the final riddle. Gabe must protect the riddle at all costs, even if that means leaving Earth, and Lea, behind for good.
I’ll just admit it now – I love Lea. Seriously. She’s spunky, witty. An exceptionally loveable nerd who doesn’t give two shits how crazy other people think she is. But additionally, she isn’t dependent or constantly fawning over the guy she likes. Lea steals the show for the first half of the book.
Gabe, at first, feels simply there. It’s difficult to put into words; he’s actively helping Lea and hanging out with his roommate, but it was difficult to connect with him. It’s almost like his struggle to deal with his emotions, caused by the loss of his fiancée and memories, creates almost a fugue-like layer that keeps the reader at an arm’s length. But it’s glorious when that barrier disintegrates. His pain, anguish, love and above all, self-acceptance, become all the more real. Suddenly it’s not a college guy putting one foot in front of the other to get beyond loss and grief, but an otherworldly Winged whose life could keep multiple worlds balanced. As much as I love Lea, Gabe’s character arc might just be my favorite part of the book.
The twist is the other contender. I won’t spoil it, but it is quite fantastic. And it’s not just the contents of the twist, but how the reader is misdirected to not even consider it a possibility.
Though the story is mostly solid as a whole, there were some hiccups. The riddle is mentioned fairly early in the story, but not explained. Once we find out it’s hiding a relic called “the Stand,” we have to grapple with what that means too. Only Nor seems to know what it does, which is a little strange considering the number of other councilmen entrusted to keep it’s location a secret. How does Illirin not have an archivist that can at least speculate on the Stand’s possible power(s)? Nor’s accomplice (a wizard who shan’t be named) also comes across a bit oddly. From their private conversations, the wizard sounds older, at least close to Nor’s age. It’s a bit jarring when his identity is revealed. Human or no, I’m still half expecting him to shed his normal form and… well I can’t really say without spoiling the twist!
As if parallel worlds, a brilliant dame, and a blue-skinned boy weren’t enough, Schism also throws Arthurian mythos into the mix. It, too, felt a bit rushed or glossed over, but I can look past it for now; tying Lea and her wizard nemesis to Merlin and Morgana was not a main part of this book’s plot arc. So for now all I’ll say is, “Cool!” and just watch that thread more carefully in the sequel. Definitely looking forward to see Lea getting more involved in saving both worlds!
That’s a wrap! I think I’ll take Tex’s advice and go back to Crimson Son for the next installment, just have to read it again. For some reason my brain didn’t quite know how to feel about Spencer on the first read-through.
Oh and if you’ve been hanging around this whole time waiting for more food pictures, don’t worry. I’ll get a post up about my excursion too!