CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 13. . . .November 30, 2012
Into the Wise Dark.
New York, NY: Ignite Books, 2012.
288 pp., trade pbk. & eBook, $14.99 (pbk.), $3.99 (eBook).
ISBN 978-0-9831583-2-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-9831583-3-2 (eBook).
Grades 9-12 / Ages 14-17.
Review by Libby McKeever.
I run and run and run
And then I'm slipping. No sound. I'm falling through white mist and fog and there's a gentle, soft drizzle. I grab onto a golden strand to stop myself, but I keep twirling, like a dry leaf caught up in autumn winds.
I'm in the desert. The sun tears through the sky like a million bolts of lightning piercing me all at once. I sit up and look around – nothing as far as the eye can see, except sand dunes. Red, rolling, beautiful dunes against a vivid, painfully blue sky.
I stand up and my two-inch heels sink into the sand. My mouth is parched. I shake the sand off my hands and begin to walk. But before I can take a step, a giant, brilliant white cobra slithers out from underneath the sand and rises before me.
I recognize it instantly as one of the Guardians of Zanum. I try to remember everything I've heard from Pasea about the four serpent-Guardians, the white one in particular. I can't remember if this is the one kills intruders slowly, sucking out her victim's entrails little by little while keeping them alive to prolong their agony.
I'm not an intruder, I want to say. I'm a bahari – I have a role here. But my voice is not cooperating.
When Parminder (Pammi) was young, her vivid dreams of living in the long lost city of Zanum were passed off as just that, dreams. But when Pammi revisits this ancient city in the Indus River Valley civilization every night and describes in detail what she does there, her mother is understandably worried. For years, Pammi is subjected to tests and scrutiny by Dr. Mace until she understands that, in order for her to maintain her ability to time travel, she needs to keep it a secret. Zanum is a city where other people are able to time travel and slip back and forth along threads though time. They're called Ables, and Pammi feels 'normal' in Zanum where she lives with a second family. Now, at 15, she has a boyfriend.
After high school, Pammi is encouraged to study psychology, and her mom's boyfriend, Dr. B, arranges for her work as a counsellor at a facility for troubled girls. Before long, Pammi realizes the girls at the centre are also Ables and have abilities that connect them all with the Dark, an environment that attaches other worlds and times.
An ancient evil is threatening Zanum's existence, and, although advised by the elders to stay away, Pammi repeatedly goes back and witnesses a scared ceremony she has been forbidden to attend. Ultimately, the repercussions of her actions are realized when she takes back a branch she'd used as a walking stick. Dark forces are now aware that organic matter can be carried with Ables though the Dark. By her action, Pamni allows Mantel, the mastermind behind Zanum's destruction, entrance to the city.
As Pammi and the girls at the centre learn about each other's ability and learn to trust each other, they understand that changes to the past will impact the preset, and so they join forces to help save Zanum.
Meminger has created an interesting, albeit complicated, premise in this story. Although the first part of the novel is necessary for building the world of Zanum and explaining Pammi's relationship with it, some readers may be discouraged with the lengthy description. The second part of the novel is interesting as the pace picks up when Meminger introduces the other teens and investigates their abilities and relationships with each other. The portrayal of Pammi as a typical teen, one whose motivations are often egocentric and not always those that understand the ramifications of her actions, makes for engaging dialogue and action. The eventual clash and battle to save Zanum, where the teens have to rely on each other's skills to survive, is satisfying for the reader. Unfortunately, the inclusion of bad language from one character towards the end of the book seems unnecessary and elevates the novel to an older reader, whereas the writing is suited to early teens.
Nessha Meminger is the author of two other Young Adult novels, Shine, Coconut Moon and Jazz in Love. Parminder is a secondary character in Jazz in Love.
Libby McKeever is the Youth Services Librarian at the Whistler Public Library in Whistler, BC.
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