Yes, this is yet another book that might cause you to think, “WHY were you reading this?” Well, just chalk it up to sociological research. I like to know what is driving the creative imaginations of writers for young adults these days.
Seventeen-year-old Wren comes from a family of women who have an extreme sensitivity to electrical energy and can harness and manipulate it. They can also cause great havoc unless they learn how to control this power properly. But Wren’s mom wants so desperately to pretend they are normal, that she refuses to discuss it with Wren and her younger sister Robin. The girls are thus left on their own to figure out how to manage their unusual reactivity.
When Wren’s boyfriend Danny dies in a car accident, Wren is so distraught, she impulsively uses her power to bring him back from the grave:
“I wanted him back. I wanted him back so much I couldn’t think about anything else. … It seemed so right. Danny was mine, I was his, and that wasn’t going to work if he was dead. So I would make him not dead, not anymore. I didn’t think any further than what it would feel like to kiss him again, to wrap my arms around him and bury my head against his shoulder. That was my first mistake. It also turned out to be the biggest.”
Unfortunately, Danny is not quite who or what he used to be. And of course Wren can’t tell anyone what she has done. She hides Danny in the attic of an old woman’s house behind her own, and visits him at night.
This new Danny is needy, and panics when she leaves for school. Complicating matters further, a new guy at school, Gabriel, also has an unusual sensitivity. He can pick up thoughts from other energy-sensitive people, and figures out what Wren has done. In spite of Wren’s fear of exposure, she is relieved to have someone to discuss the “problem” of Danny with, and it also helps that Gabriel is very good-looking. As their relationship develops, Gabriel becomes more and more worried about Wren’s safety, as Danny becomes more and more threatening. Before long, Wren and Gabriel are plotting about ways to get rid of the boy Wren loved so much that she brought him back from the dead.
Evaluation: This story is not quite as silly as it sounds. The concept of an animated anthropomorphic being has played a powerful role in human mythology, and tying it into the idea of an everlasting love that can conquer even death has great appeal. And women with the power to harness electricity! Well, who wouldn’t want, for example, to make the vacuum do what it does all by itself? The execution of these ideas is a bit lacking in this case, but the author is not without promise. Her updating of the classic narrative about the mystical creation or reincarnation of a being is a clever device for a morality story. And she has a good ear for teenage angst, and for what is important to high school kids. But the lack of depth in the story detracted from my ability to take the ethical issues seriously, and the characters for the most part are just not appealing; by the end of the book, I found myself preferring the often catatonic and increasingly zombie-like dead Danny to the incredibly self-absorbed and whiny live Wren.
Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2011