Review posted January 5, 2014.
Walker Books (Bloomsbury), 2013. 358 pages.
2013 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #9 Teen Fiction
2013 Cybils Finalist
I wasn't sure about this book at first. It seemed awfully dark, and I wasn't sure what was going on. But oh my yes, Sarah Beth Durst pulled it all together into a fantastic and powerful story.
Eve doesn't remember anything. As the book opens, she's being taken by two people from the Agency to live in a home. It's a Witness Protection Program, but she doesn't remember what she witnessed, why she is being protected by the Agency, even what sort of Agency it is. She's sure her face didn't use to look like it does now. And she remembers surgeries, but not what was done. And she has strange powers. But whenever she uses them, she blacks out and has a vision, a sinister vision of a Magician.
Here is a scene from the first chapter:
She wondered how she even knew this was a bedroom when she didn't remember ever having one. She'd known what a car was too, though the seat belt had felt unfamiliar. She could recognize a few kinds of birds. For example, she knew that these painted ones on the walls were sparrows and the live one outside had been a wren. She didn't know how she knew that. Perhaps Malcolm had told her in one of her lessons.
Or maybe it was a memory, forcing its way to the surface of her mind. But the sparrows she remembered flew. She pictured their bodies, black against a blindingly blue sky. She didn't know where that sky was or when she had seen it. The birds had flown free.
Eve raised her hand toward the birds on the wall. "Fly," she whispered.
The birds detached from the wall.
The air filled with rustling and crinkling as the paper birds fluttered their delicate wings. At first they trembled, but then they gained strength. Circling the room, they rose higher toward the ceiling. They spiraled up and around Eve's head. She reached her arms up, and the birds brushed past her fingers. She felt their paper feathers, and she smiled.
Then she heard a rushing like a flood of water, and a familiar blackness filled her eyes.
Eve gets a job, since her handlers want her to live a normal life, meet other teens. Her job is a library page. (I love that detail.) A teenage boy also works at the library, and he seems quite taken with Eve. But is it safe to make friends?
This book is a little confusing at the start, mirroring Eve's confusion. But trust me, it all comes together by the end and is completely worth a little confusion! A wonderful and imaginative story.