A sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his undocumented family and gave him telepathic abilities is recruited into the fiercely elite offices of a minister of defense whose offer to secretly train him is complicated by the actions of his dangerously cruel, alluring son. Simultaneous. - (Baker & Taylor)
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In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
- (Brilliance Audio
In a future U.S., states have become countries, magical viruses run rampant, and refugees are ruthlessly deported. Sixteen-year-old Noam Alvaro, son of undocumented immigrants, wakes up in a hospital room to find he's the only surviving member of his family and that his off-the-chart magical technological skills have caught the attention of Carolinia's defense minister, Calix Lehrer. Although under Lehrer's protection, Noam intends to subvert Lehrer's plans and continue to work to help refugees—but then he meets and falls in love with Lehrer's son, Dara, and he begins to question everyone's motives, including his own. Lee captures the thorny, ill-defined, and obsessive nature of many a teen romance in Noam and Dara's relationship. This fast-paced, issue-driven thriller will collect readers, who will eagerly anticipate the sequel. With references to the Holocaust as well as present-day issues of immigration, deportation, martial law, and racism, Lee has worked philosophical and current-day realities into a promising series opener. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
DEBUT In a war-torn future America, new states have formed around the only inhabitable areas left untainted by magic or nuclear fallout. Sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro, son of undocumented Atlantian immigrants, loses his last remaining family member when a magical virus outbreak occurs in his Carolinian neighborhood. The fever claims the lives of many of his neighbors, but Noam wakes to discover that he has been spared and the infection has made him a powerful magic user. Minister Lehrer, a major figure in the government whom Noam despises, offers him a chance to hone his powers under his personal tutelage. Noam uses the opportunity to attempt to overthrow the current administration and help other undocumented immigrants. While its magical system is intriguing, Lee's debut sf thriller is stymied by flat, lackluster characters, in whose motivations and relationships readers are unlikely to be invested. The pace picks up toward the end and a twisty plot offers some surprises. VERDICT Adults and older teens who appreciate stories with close ties among magic, science, and political machinations will find this first novel appealing.—Karin Thogersen, Huntley Area P.L., IL
Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 10 Up—Until the outbreak, Noam was a regular 16-year-old boy in his neighborhood, even if he was an Atlantian refugee. Afterward, he wakes up in a hospital alone, everyone else in his neighborhood dead. Suddenly he is handed power, status, and a new life as a witching. But does he want it, or can he use his magic to enhance the Atlantian cause? This is a book for teens of today wrestling with the political unrest in the United States. Written from the refugee perspective, it explores topics of abuse, suicide, intergenerational trauma, mass plague outbreaks, and more. Debut author Lee reflects on her personal experiences through a sci-fi/fantasy lens and seeks to speak to readers who see themselves reflected in Noam's eyes. Lee's writing is advanced, sophisticated, and full of emotion. Readers can feel the tension and frustration in Noam as he tries to navigate a world of power and corruption to find where he belongs. Noam's relationship with Dara, a fellow witching, is also an example of the hard decisions we make for those we love. This is for true lovers of sci-fi and dystopian who enjoy deep character development mixed with a little romance. VERDICT Fans of Neal Shusterman and Veronica Roth will be drawn to this novel. Highly recommended to any young adult collection.—Kayla Casiello, Woods Memorial Library, Barre, MA
Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.