As I began reading, this reminded me of my favorite Twilight Zone episode. I am transfixed by the episode of the two human adults who are trapped inside a small town and suddenly they hear laughing. Later, they discover everything inside their small world is stationary and fake. As the final scene pans out, they realize that they themselves have been a child’s entertainment, acting as the toy figures inside the child’s miniature toy house. This episode is truly a classic and one that came to mind as I read the opening chapters of this novel.
It’s Cora who’s high on top of a mound of desert sand who’s confused now. With no body guards or her famous father to direct her path, Cora must try to figure out exactly how she came to be dressed in someone else’s clothing. The landscape below her is startling and bizarre for it‘s impossible for such a variety of complex systems to exist all in one area. Different landscapes ranging from an ocean, to a small town, to the desert that she is standing in (just to name a few) are within inches from one another. Cora feels she is dreaming but as she walks away from the desert, she realizes that she is not, for there are other teens with her. All of these teens are in the same state as Cora. It gets really strange in the book as a caretaker arrives, his towering mass of metallic skin explains to the teens how they are endangered species, how earthlings are the unintelligent race, and that these teens had valuable attributes which is why they were chosen to be on their space station. The Kindred hoped to replicate life on Earth to make it more comfortable for these teens and that they needed to obey their rules. Their rules, you had to love them. Rule one: solve the puzzles that they created in the biomes to gain strength (mental and physical). Hence, they would receive token to buy items for themselves (they were treating them like children). Rule two: Be healthy: eat, sleep and cooperate in their health assessments. Eat the food they give you, get enough sleep and say yes, to their tests that they provide. Rule three: have sex. Of these six teens, they will tell you which teen is suitable for you and that is the teen they want you to engage in procreative activities with, to ensure that the earthling race will continue. Oh yeah, there are black windows. The teens believe that the Kindred watch you throughout the 21-day stay to make sure you follow their rules; otherwise…..your stay is over. It’s all about games; games with the Kindred, games among the teens and games within themselves. But the games were not deep enough for me and the drama was not dashing enough for me. I was hoping for more depth and more action, it just skimmed across the top and left me waiting for more at the end of each chapter. I wanted more with this storyline, it was there and the players had the persona for it but the lines didn’t take them there. I really loved The Madman’s Daughter, it was such a tremendous trilogy that I just had to read this new novel by Megan Shepherd. She’s still one of my favorites and I will continue to read her novels.