April 3, 2013

Strangelets Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway

Author: Michelle Gagnon
Genre: YA Fantasy/Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: April 9, 2013
Publisher: Soho Teen


17-year-old Sophie lies on her deathbed in California, awaiting the inevitable loss of her battle with cancer…
17-year-old Declan stares down two armed thugs in a back alley in Galway, Ireland…
17-year-old Anat attempts to traverse a booby-trapped tunnel between Israel and Egypt…

All three strangers should have died at the exact same moment, thousands of miles apart. Instead, they awaken together in an abandoned hospital—only to discover that they’re not alone. Three other teens from different places on the globe are trapped with them. Somebody or something seems to be pulling the strings. With their individual clocks ticking, they must band together if they’re to have any hope of surviving. 

Soon they discover that they've been trapped in a future that isn't of their making: a deadly, desolate world at once entirely familiar and utterly strange. Each teen harbors a secret, but only one holds the key that could get them home. As the truth comes to light through the eyes of Sophie, Declan, and Anat, the reader is taken on a dark and unforgettable journey into the hearts of teens who must decide what to do with a second chance at life.

Chapter One

Palo Alto, California, U.S.A.

Sophie Page felt herself getting closer. Every inhale drew farther apart from the previous one until there were measurable gaps between them. She could almost picture the breaths that strung like beads on a necklace, stretching off into the distance, growing more isolated from one another as they approached the horizon. Her heartbeat followed suit, slowing until she felt only an occasional tap against her ribcage.

It was easier than she'd expected, letting go. Sophie was vaguely aware of her parents standing on either side of the hospital bed, gripping her hands tightly as if that alone could tether her to earth. Her younger sister, Nora, sobbed quietly at the foot of the bed. The whisper of sneakers on linoleum came and went as nurses flitted around like moths, doing their best to be unobtrusive.

They'd offered her a priest, but she'd turned them down. It seemed hypocritical when she hadn't been in a church in years. She'd allowed her parents to tuck Soup, the bedraggled stuffed cat she'd slept with as a child, in bed beside her. But they all knew that was more for their sakes than hers.

Sophie drew a sudden, sharp breath. She hadn't known exactly what to expect. Over the past few months, as her inevitable demise approached, she'd developed a voracious appetite for stories of near death experiences. Apparently people saw everything from angels to a bright light to nothingness. Some were exotic: a Lakota chief claimed that he rose above the clouds and saw a circular hoop surrounding the world, its edges vanishing into infinity. Others were more mundane, like the Calcutta man who found himself in an office where a panel of faceless people berated him for showing up early, then sent him back to his body.

Sophie figured she should have something to look forward to. Anything was preferable to her present: endless rounds of chemotherapy and countless awkward discussions with doctors who tried to explain why her lymphoma wasn't responding to treatment. A steady stream of hospital beds until she finally landed in this one, in the hospice. Would she see anything at all? The secrets of the universe revealed? A strange bureaucracy? Or just a blinding flash, then nothing?

Whatever she'd expected, it hadn't been this.

Her parents stiffened, though she could still feel their grasp. Her sister had also frozen mid-sob, as if someone had snapped a photo. The walls suddenly seemed to bow out, expanding. Like the hospice room had come to life and sucked in a huge breath of air. And at the foot of her bed was... a circle. Not light, exactly, but not dark, either. Sophie was transfixed by it. Every color imaginable whirled in a dizzying gyre. It started out small as a pinhole, rapidly increasing until it was the size of a loaf of bread, then a car. As it grew, it drew the contents of the room inexorably inward. Sophie wanted to call out to her family and ask if they were seeing it too, and maybe knew what it was. But she was immobilized, heavy - and this was it, she realized. This was how she was going to die.

An overwhelming calm and peace descended on her. Sophie relaxed, letting her mind spin along with the gyre, touching lightly on memories. The time she ran away and Mom found her hiding behind the local ice cream store... When Nora was first brought home from the hospital and Sophie couldn't believe this tiny screaming  thing was her sister (Aren't babies supposed to be cute?)... Dad swinging her up on his shoulders so she could reach the apples dangling from the branches above.

Sophie didn't have any regrets, not really. It would have been nice to have lived longer: a real life, a full one. But she'd had plenty of time to come to terms with the fact that she'd never go to college. Never know what it felt like to fall in love. Never marry or have kids of her own to take apple picking and fight with and console. She was ready. The gyre reached the tips of her toes. A peculiar heat came off it, as if it were a living thing lapping at her heels. Sophie smiled one last time and closed her eyes, letting it take her. 

Strangelets is a genre bending young adult novel that mixes aspects of time travel, fantasy, dystopia, science fiction, and mystery - along with action, adventure and even a bit of romance - with the end product being a bizarre and intriguing book that will leave readers reeling. The story follows a hodge podge group of teenage characters as they all wake up in some sort of infirmary after seeing a swirling portal swallow them whole. They are able to escape the building only to find that there seems to have been a natural disaster that ravaged the land and they can find no other people to help them. What ensues is a desperate quest for survival and the hope that there are answers waiting for them somewhere. 

There are five major characters in the book, each with a distinct personality and definite strengths and weaknesses. They are all about the same age but are all from different countries of origin. The only thing keeping them together is their strange and frightening predicament and their hope of survival. The plot is very strange to say the least. I've never read anything quite like it before and my mind is still attempting to piece together all the parts of the story. I don't want to give away any spoilers, so it's hard to discuss the storyline in any detail. Suffice it to say that things are definitely not what they appear to be and there are lots of twists and turns throughout the book. I was confused most of the time while reading and had to continually try to stop and figure out what was going on. I didn't like the feeling of not knowing what was happening - I felt like I was missing out on big parts of the story because I wasn't catching on to something. Overall, this is a very interesting and unique novel that fans of fantasy and science fiction will definitely want to read. I'll probably have to go back and re-read it so I can catch little things I didn't pick up on the first time through. Definitely an interesting and original book that's worth a read!

Michelle Gagnon is a former modern dancer, bartender, dog walker, model, personal trainer, and Russian supper club performer. Her bestselling adult thrillers THE TUNNELS, BONEYARD, THE GATEKEEPER, and KIDNAP & RANSOM have been published in North America, France, Denmark, Spain, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Australia. BONEYARD was a finalist for a 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. 

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  1. Good review and excerpt. Thanks for participating!

  2. Oh, wow that sounded good! Thanks for the giveaway! :)

  3. Great review... added to my TBR list. Thank you for the giveaway!