Under the benevolent rule of the alien Others, humanity knows nothing but contentment. No matter how many of them are broken and disposed of. Except Althea. She’s plagued by fits of sadness and anger that tend to cause things to burst into flames around her. She also teleports uncontrollably through time and space, spending each of the different seasons with a different family in a different town. Her one comfort is a letter from a stranger promising that there are others like her and that they will meet when the time is right.
The opening, introducing Althea's season-hopping existence, is very atmospheric. Her contained, regimented world, and her isolation in it due to her travels and the inability of the people around her to feel, set up a potentially moody and psychologically powerful story and keep the early pages turning.
The worldbuilding crumbles further the more secrets are revealed, and what could have been a very personal story is pushed aside in favor of long, predictable, contrived backstory. Because humanity is trapped in a vaguely contented haze, Althea doesn’t know the word for tears. Nice touch. But she does know the words for the rest of the assortment of feelings she experiences that she would never have been taught to identify. She only sees each of the towns she lives in during a specific season. Yet she once spent three years in one town, missing only summers.
Such contradictions abound, and where things do make sense, concepts are reiterated far more often than necessary for the thin plot to be followed. Althea has a natural connection with Lucas, the one other person she’s met who can feel, but their discovery of each other takes a backseat to long explanations of how the few feeling humans came to be in an improbably symmetrical and fairytale-esque drama of the previous generation. Ultimately a far more bland and by-the-numbers Sci-Fi dystopia than the quality of the first few chapters’ writing promises.
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