ARC Review: Quicksilver by R.J. Anderson

buy it.  buy it now. 

also, some spoilers for book one.  beware.  

title:  Quicksilver

author: R.J. Anderson

pages: 320

format: Netgalley ARC

isbn/asin: 978-0761387992

buy it: Amazon

rating: 5/5 [in the genre] or 9/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Lovers of Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen and Glitch by Heather Anastasiu and sci-fi and psychology and good writing and joy.  YA readers craving atypical romance and fierce female characters.

Back in her hometown, Tori Beaugrand had everything a teenaged girl could want—popularity, money, beauty. But she also had a secret. A secret that could change her life in an instant, or destroy it.  
Now she’s left everything from her old life behind, including her real name and Alison, the one friend who truly understood her. She can’t escape who and what she is. But if she wants to have anything like a normal life, she has to blend in and hide her unusual... talents.
Plans change when the enigmatic Sebastian Faraday reappears and gives Tori some bad news: she hasn’t escaped her past. In fact, she’s attracted new interest in the form of an obsessed ex-cop turned investigator for a genetics lab. 
She has one last shot at getting her enemies off her trail and winning the security and independence she’s always longed for. But saving herself will take every ounce of Tori’s incredible electronics and engineering skills—and even then, she may need to sacrifice more than she could possibly imagine if she wants to be free.

the basics
I think I started this the minute I finished Ultraviolet.  I couldn't put it down.  Anderson is not only a brilliant writer, but also a rare storyteller.  Tori inhabits the same world as Alison, but she's her own person.  Her voice feels different; each word is as steeped in her mechanical view of the world as Alison's was in her synesthesia.  With a fast-paced plot that alternates between the dangerous present and Tori's view of what happened back in Ultraviolet, there's never a moment to catch your breath.  The GeneSystem plot feels a little tacked on, but the overarching plot is fleshed out and twistier than you'd ever expect. The ending blew me away. I was also getting some major hopeless romantic giggles going on.  Despite a few weak points, this is an over-all rock solid read that will thrill fans of sci-fi or newbies to the speculative world alike.  Must-read of the year.  

plot . 5/5
We start where Ultraviolet left off, only Tori is the hero here.  Remember in book one, when she moved suddenly away from Sudbury?  Well, here you find out why.  She's running.  A shady genetics company (who ran her DNA for the cops) is on her tail and wants her for their guinea pig.  Mathis hasn't given up either, and when Faraday shows up again, he makes it clear that Tori is every moment in danger of being beamed back to the lab and never seeing her family again.  From there, it's a whirlwind.  But it doesn't feel contrived.  A lot of it focuses on Tori and new-friend cutie Milo trying to create a device to stop the relay--but also Tori struggling with her lost life, and her overwhelming secrets.  Like Ultraviolet, it's sci-fi with a heart and a pulse, and a strong main character whose inner turmoil is as important and rich as her outer world.  The last third will blow you out of the water.  

concept . 5/5
Yet again, Anderson plays with our notion of genre and goes neiner-neiner at all of us who think we know sci-fi, young adult, and romance.  Tori is a beautiful mechanical genius struggling with her unusual sexuality.  Milo is a sweet future gym teacher.  Faraday is as enigmatic as he was in the first book, perhaps more.  The focus on human relationships and struggles gives the sci-fi a soft touch and makes it stronger as a book.  

characters . 5/5
I loved Alison, but I loved Tori.  Yeah, okay, I may or may not be a traitor.  Or maybe I just like them both for different reasons.  Tori is badass in an understated way.  She's had to work hard to get where she is.  Humans are confusing to her.  Relationships are enigmas.  Facial expressions, social conventions--all things she's had to painstakingly learn.  Machines are where her heart is.  Milo is a lot more relatable than Faraday was. He's adorable, snarky, pretty much everything you want in a supporting guy.  What's interesting is that Mathis never appears except in a single flashback, so the enemy is really in Tori's head.  

style . 5/5
Gorgeous.  Anderson has a sense of style that's much more mature than your average YA.  Whereas Ultraviolet was full of sensory detail, Quicksilver has some of that, but it's very different.  The descriptions are beautiful and very focused on the tangible, because that's what Tori understands.  There are also hilarious moments, particularly Milo's childlike glee over his sudden stumbling into a real sci-fi mystery.  I just can't say enough good things about Anderson's writing.  Her characters sound like real teenagers and they're all unique, with voices of their own.  But she doesn't dumb it down either.  

mechanics . 5/5
Again, we see the mechanics of the book affected by Tori's way of viewing the world.  The chapter titles are cleverly-chosen technical terms whose definitions (provided) express the meaning of the chapter.  The subheadings are written in binary.  You feel immersed in Tori's head on every page.  

take home message
A sequel worthy of Ultraviolet, that may even surpass the richness of the original.  

Note: I purchased this copy.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

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