on 24 January 2011
Dana is autistic, but considered functional enough to be in regular school classes. Despite the best efforts of her foster parents, she endures the cruelty of uninformed teachers and schoolyard bullies. Dana also has a secret: she can talk to computers. There's a wi-fi gadget implanted in her brain. Unknown to Dana, she's the product of an experiment by Ivor Pilgrennon, a scientist with a bit of a Frankenstein complex.
When an attack at school sends Dana to the hospital for an overnight stay, she picks up on a distant computer signal that seems to be offering her a safe haven: Pilgerennon's Beacon, calling the subjects of his experiment to the isolated island where he's hiding out. She soon finds herself involved with Jananin Blake, a brilliant physicist and the inventor of the gadget in Dana's brain. Jananin hates Pilgrennon, and is appalled by his experiments, which included unauthorized use of her invention. But her own moral compass is as skewed as Pilgrennon's.
The adventure that follows is like a mad roller-coaster ride, with Dana caught between the two scientists, wondering whether she can trust either of them, finding herself in circumstances that demand she stretch her abilities to the fullest. It's a trip down the rabbit hole, with forays into the world of virtual reality.
This is a thriller, an action-adventure book complete with world-wide conspiracies, chase scenes, a dollop of fighting and explosions, mysteries and madness. But there's tenderness as well, little acts of caring, touches of pathos. Through it all, we see the two scientists gradually changing, as Dana struggles to make sense of a world that too often "doesn't compute."
It's a hard book to put down, and I'm looking forward to the sequel. Highly recommended.
on 6 February 2012
Dana is autistic (very convincingly so), and school is pretty much hell. The only good thing is that she can talk to the classroom wLAN, the through it, the internet. Thngs get worse when she has to spend a nght in hospital, and the doctors find someting metal inside her skull, even though she has no scars. While she's still reeling from that, she wakes to "hear" a beacon whispering at her that she'll be safe if she can just reach the beacon. So she sets off and promptly gets kidnapped by a woman who claims to be her mother, and a famous scientist and a victim of the beacon builder, and Dana's only hope of safety. When Dana finally reaches the beacon and meets Pilgrennon, she gets totally different story, and she has no way of telling which one is true. While she's still trying to work out who to trust, somebody starts trying to kill her, and the adventure really starts.
One of the many things I liked about this book is the charcters. The main characters evolve as the story goes on, the autistic children are completely believable and even the villans think they're heroes. That makes you care much more about what happens.
I could put it down, but I didn't want to.
on 31 January 2011
Pilgrennon's Beacon is a YA science fiction novel set in the near future, told from the point of view of a young girl, Dana, who has autism. The author draws from her own experience to create a compelling character caught up in mysteries, plot twists and nail-biting adventure. An ethically questionable experiment has given Dana unique abilities to communicate with electronic devices, and this ability is drawing attention. Dana follows a mysterious signal only she can detect that leads her to an exotic locale, a small island off the coast of Scotland, and more children like herself, as well as two feuding scientists who have their own agendas. The morals of the two scientists clearly fall in the gray areas, but Dana is a sympathetic character well worth rooting for.