REVIEW: Twist by Colby Hodge
Dear Ms. Hodge,
I greatly enjoyed the first batch of books Shomi published last year, so I’ve been looking forward to the imprint’s second offering. Yours is the first of those I’ve read, and for the most part, I am not disappointed.
Abbey Shore works her way through architectural school by flipping houses. Her latest project is the neighborhood haunted house, which has a ghostly reputation that far exceeds the reality. In fact, the only thing dangerous about it is the fact that several dead bodies are turning up in its general vicinity. Then one night, Abbey knocks down a wall while renovating and discovers a giant, spinning hourglass submerged in a tank of hydrogen peroxide. And that’s where her troubles begin.
I’ve never been a fan of time travel stories, so I was initially put off by that aspect. Thankfully the novel also promised a post-apocalyptic future, which is something I am fond of, and that was enough to overrule my misgivings. I’m glad that was the case because otherwise I would have missed out on an entertaining read. The first three Shomi books taught me to expect a fast pace and lots of action, and Twist certainly lived up to that promise. The instant Abbey steps through the time twister, we’re greeted by action, action, action. (That’s not criticism, by the way.)
The post-apocalyptic future portrayed in the book reminds me of I Am Legend, with its rundown cities and vampiric monsters. We’ve already seen similar futuristic landscapes in other Shomi novels like Driven and Moongazer, but in both those cases, the cause for the apocalypse was largely environmental. In Twist, the world’s population was nearly wiped out by a virulent strain of the bird flu and the survivors are hunted down by alien-spawned vampires, colloquially known here as ticks. I’ve mentioned before that I’m tired of vampires but these were different and monstrous enough for me to work past that pre-existing bias.
I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Abbey and Shane. In the present day, they’re both shy and unable to work up the courage to talk to each other. But in the future, Abbey’s confused by her recent time travel and Shane, who’d been turned into a vampire by Queen Tick Lucinda, is angry about the last 150 years. Abbey disappeared through the time twister shortly before their first date, and it was her failure to show up that led to his disastrous encounter with Lucinda. Shane’s struggle to work past his bitterness to realize the current state of the world isn’t Abbey’s fault and Abbey’s attempts to reconcile the Shane she knew and the future Shane both provided a nice emotional backdrop for the book.
I do have one complaint, however, and it’s one that comes up again and again with the Shomi books: the antagonist is two-dimensional. Lucinda is a member of a conquering alien race, and the one sent to Earth. Her only goal seems to be killing Abbey and any members of her special bloodline. Everything else — creating more ticks, destroying the world — is an offshoot of that one thing, and it becomes tedious. After all, when you have such a two-dimensional antagonist, is there any doubt the heroine will triumph in the end? Especially when that heroine is apparently the best fighter ever seen in that post-apocalyptic future?
That said, I enjoyed Abbey’s story and how her time in the future teaches her to be a braver person. I do think her fighting prowess and special abilities were introduced abruptly and without much lead up, as was the special bond between Abbey and Shane, but I loved her interactions with Shane’s band of post-apocalyptic survivors, who were a nicely varied bunch. And kudos for the cover as well; in general, the Shomi covers have not been my cup of tea but this one I like. B for me.
This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.