Jordan Pendragon is a star player for his high school hockey team in Salt Lake City. Neither he nor his twin sister Kathy seem to be anything other than normal representative faces of American high schoolers- that is until the car accident. This car accident changes their lives in more ways than one, as Jordan begins to have some very strange experiences. He even picks up a stalker- a very bold one at that who Jordan at first thinks is British. Kolin isn't the only one following however, and a friendly trip to the a carnival with friends turns into anything but a barrel of laughs. This is where things begin to reveal just how unaverage Jordan is, as he realises the things he is seeing that seem to be part of our world are not...they are parallels elsewhere and Jordan can ride the slipstream to get there. An elsewhere that Kolin and their other pursuer happen to have come from. Using this ability intuitively, he manages to rescue himself, Kathy and Kolin from their violent pursuer and finds himself plunged into reality he could never have dreamed up.
A world that has seen violent devastation and where science has made many things possible. Cybernetically engineered vampiric succubi roam to catch the unwary, shape shifters mingle with humanity, and a crazed murderous cult are on the loose. Not to mention that the AI in charge of keeping society running has had some sort of psychotic breakdown and literally split itself into two personalities and bodies with violently schizophrenic results. Turns out all of the elements are very closely related to each other and young Jordan and Kathy have a crucial role to play restoring the balance of Avalon. A balance that is critical to reach, as earth is tied to it via the slipstream and so, the ultimate fate of one world depends on what happens to the other.
It's a heady mix of mythology, hard sci-fi, and yes, a bit of romance. If you despise techno-babble and find it hard to follow, you may find parts of this book not to your liking as Offutt goes into quite a bit of pseudo-science detail to explain the slipstream connection and the other marvels our heroes encounter. The romance is secondary to the plot, being part of the social and mental development of Jordan and Kathy as two youths coming of age while adjusting to a new environment. Kathy's character really begins to find her feet when she falls for Dylan and his puma familiar and begins to join in on their combat missions. Jordan , on the other hand, finds himself in another role- as Kolin's lover. With all else that's going on, the road to love is not a smooth one to happily ever after, but it's nice to see such positive role models within YA fiction. Kathy is a strong minded, intelligent, capable young woman that female readers will likely identify positively with, while Jordan is a the boy next door type- good looking, sporty, book smart but rather unexpectedly naïve at times. He's the kid everybody knows and likes and hey, he just happens to be gay.
This is the author's début novel and while the overall story is great, it does have a few rough edges, but nothing that I found made this unreadable or unenjoyable, though I did find myself bogged down slightly at one point with what seemed to be a slightly too long scientific explanation of a phenomena. That was earlier on within the novel and as the pages flew by, I could see that the author was hitting his stride. The prose really began to flow as the characters grew and the our view of Avalon began to expand. Indeed, this is but part one of an ongoing series, so a large portion of this book is to acquaint ourselves with the twins, their new cohorts and the the issues within the parallel world of Avalon. I look forward to reading the next book in the series to see how they get on. A word to the wise, though- while this is marketed as a YA book, there is a graphic sex scene within the book (tastefully done and actually salient to the overall plot) so I'd keep it from under 16's. Given the scope of the story and the rather complex plot, I'd say anyone 16 and over that likes hard sci fi will likely find this a satisfying read. I'd like to thank the author for providing me with my review copy.