Thomas & Mercer, 2015, 480 pages
FBI agent Josh Metcalf believes he has uncovered a decades-long conspiracy involving missing children. His obsession has led him to compile hundreds of cases. All involve children rumored to have psychic abilities - and all have no witnesses, no leads, and no resolution.
Meanwhile Rowan Wilson, a meteorite hunter for NASA's Spaceguard Program, is losing her grip on the past. Memories of the childhood she thought she'd had are vanishing, and dark recollections of kidnappings, mind control, and an isolated mountain ranch are taking their place.
When Rowan's shadowed past converges with Josh's research, they uncover a deadly plot to reshape humanity. With the world's survival dependent on stopping a vast network of conspirators, can they decipher - and expose - the truth in time?
There are seeds of a good series here, though the plot is obviously mined from numerous TV shows. Basically, a shadowy conspiracy called the Faithful has been using eugenics to breed a race of psychic children for the past several decades in the United States. These children pop up randomly all over the country, but are detected using an extremely improbable plot device and then abducted and groomed for unspecified nefarious plans. Exactly what the Faithful are up to is not revealed until the end, but there is enough mustache-twirling evil to imply some sort of world domination scheme.
As a premise, it's not particularly original, but not bad. There's an FBI agent who's been tracking these missing children his entire career, unable to put the pieces together, and there is a NASA scientist with missing childhood memories. The two of them come together and discover the evil bad guys, along with a group of psychic kids who are basically engaging in teenage rebellion with telekinesis and telepathy. The kids are not so much brave heroes who want to stop the evil machinations of their elders, but moody adolescents who want to piss off their folks. The teen melodrama and the author playing will-they-won't-they? with the FBI agent and the NASA scientist for the entire book did not add depth of characterization; it was just annoying.
The Faithful was not terribly written, but it read like some of the self-published novels I've sampled on Kindle. The author can tell a story and she can put words together, but none of it struck me as clever or engaging, and the plot often veered away from its global conspiracy thriller foundations to dwell on angsty melodrama.
There are lots of turgid soap opera emotions. The villains, who are like evil cultists from a 70s horror movie — or HYDRA agents from a 70s comic book — made this book a bit of a slog for me. It had potential that seemed to fizzle in this author's hands. The twist at the end was pretty good, almost good enough to make me want to read the next book. But not quite. 5/10.
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