CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 19 . . . . January 20, 2012
Collapse of the Veil. (Passage Through Time Series, Book 1).
Prince George, BC: Bundoran Press (www.bundoranpress.com), 2010.
211 pp., pbk., $11.95.
Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up.
Review by Amy Dawley.
Tears slid down Iannik’s cheeks. “The child returned to his family unharmed. Though Nylla’s intentions were true, it was wrong. I am no one to speak, but her Sight was surely false at the end.” He sat there, head bowed, his shoulders quivering visibly.
There was an upheaval in Katie’s chest. Something in her wanted to hug him. Something else wanted him gone. That thing he’d done to Ryan... Except, Tyler seemed glad! What was she supposed to think?
I am undeserving of your kindness. Iannik’s voice spoke directly into her head.
Katie jumped; the rocking chair swayed.
I’m sorry to frighten you. Your mindvoice is very strong. I wanted to see if you can hear me.
Katie’s heart pounded. Iannik hadn’t moved, but his sad eyes were looking straight at her. Yes... So Lorne had been right—people really could hear her thoughts. Iannik, obviously. Maybe especially. How awful! What all had he heard? Everything, probably... Hot tears blurred her vision; fiery heat flooded her face. Wishing she could melt into the cushion beneath her, she seized the rocking chair arms to launch herself for escape.
You can learn to guard your thoughts, Katie.
Sixteen-year-old Katie has had enough of her short-tempered single mother, annoying little brother, and perhaps most of all, being responsible for caring for her own nine-month-old son. Leaving it all behind for just one afternoon, Katie escapes to a local park to lie in the grass and try and forget about how she never intended her life to be this way. Suddenly, Katie is falling, disoriented and swirling in blackness. Katie awakens to find herself in a familiar yet totally foreign land that looks eerily similar to the park she just left—except there are no roads, buildings, people, or anything else other than open grasslands and water. When the two strangely dressed people—a man and a woman—discover her cowering amongst the bushes, they are interested in her young son but have no use for Katie, herself, and send her back to her reality. Katie awakens in the park only to discover that her bike and belongings are gone and that she must’ve fallen asleep and had a weird dream.
Katie soon realizes that her weird dream was, in fact, planned “crossing,” or time travel, where Katie was mistakenly transported to the land of Aaurenan, a future version of Earth. According to their lore, pollution, overpopulation, sickness, and natural disasters forced their ancestors underground to survive earth’s destruction until it was safe to go above ground again. The earth had reclaimed its natural state, and the simple, farming lifestyle of the Aaurenan took over for future generations. Led by their psychic and prophetic Seers, the Aaurenan depended on Seers to bring “life seed” to their increasingly barren population, by opening portals to the past so women could “cross” and become pregnant, thereby continuing the population. With the failing health of their current Seer, Nylla, the world of Aaurenan is at a perilous point in its history: they must find their prophet “T’laaure” who will save Aaurenan from extinction.
While the post-apocalyptic and dystopian premise of Alison Lohans’ Collapse of the Veil is intriguing, the characterization, plot development, and world building fall short of creating a truly well-written novel. The story oscillates uncomfortably between different characters’ perspectives, and while this does bring some depth to individual characters, it lacks the richness and detail that draws readers in to care for these characters, particularly the two main characters of Katie, a frustrated teen mother, and Iannik, a self-doubting, weak-powered Aaurenan Seer. The language is disjointed and confusing, especially with regard to scenes and lore of the future-world Aaurenan. Snippets of the “Lore of the T’laaure of Aaurenan” and prophecies from various Aaurenan Seers over the generations are included at the end of chapters that took place in Aaurenan. While the inclusion of lore is a familiar world-building device in fantasy and science fiction novels, the inclusion of these snippets in such a disjointed way was jarring to the development of the plot. A more helpful device would’ve been to include such lore as an introductory chapter at the beginning of the novel, or to create an appendix to be included at the end of the novel that listed the Seers’ prophecies in chronological order that the reader could reference if needed.
Character development and plot development aside, the weaving together of elements of fantasy, science fiction, and dystopian stories ultimately result in an unhappy combination. It is difficult to believe in the fantastic psychic powers of the Aaurenan Seers while, at the same time, remembering that this society has survived earth’s destruction and yet has access to ancient relics, such as solar power panels, that somehow survived the apocalyptic end of the world to power technology in their dwellings. Aspects such as these suspend readers in a half-fantasy, half-science fiction, half-real-life world that are neither probable or make sense. Recommended for large libraries, or for libraries where fantasy fiction for high school/adult readers is in high demand.
Recommended with reservations.
Amy Dawley is the teen librarian at the Prince George Public Library in Prince George, BC.
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