Monday, June 7, 2010

Ripple Effect

Elizabeth wants to run away from home. She thinks life in the town of Fawlt Line is like living in "Mayberry trapped in the Twilight Zone." Plus, her parents are excessively quirky (her dad's slippers are grass stained because he does the gardening in them...and he doesn't even care!) and she can't stand being embarrassed by them any longer.

Ripple Effect, The Time Thriller Trilogy #1, written by Paul McCusker, opens with Elizabeth planning her escape with her best friend, Jeff. However, her scheme quickly goes awry when she vanishes without a trace from her locked and windowless bathroom.

Elizabeth soon discovers that although she's still in Fawlt Line, the streets and houses are not quite right, her parents are dead, she is engaged to a man she's never met before...and everyone is calling her Sarah. When Elizabeth insists she is not Sarah and cannot remember her fiancee or "new" best friend (a girl named Rhonda), people question her sanity. Meanwhile, the real Sarah is in a coma in Elizabeth's reality. The police believe that Sarah is Elizabeth, and think that Jeff tried to murder her.

Jeff turns to his uncle, Malcolm, for help. He not only defends Jeff, but also uncovers facts about the case that don't add up. For example, the dental work for the girl in the coma does not match Elizabeth's dental records. Plus, the girl isn't wearing Elizabeth's clothes but a t-shirt advertising a festival that doesn't exist. Malcolm believes the answer to the mystery is that a time-warp door opened up and physical transfer took place. But if that happened, why did this impostor arrive half-strangled and in a coma? Does that mean that the real Elizabeth is in danger?

As the story unfolds, Elizabeth is thrust into more and more dangerous situations. She doesn't know what to believe, who to trust, or even what's real anymore. Jeff has his own problems with the police. Only Malcolm seems to hold the key to finding out the truth.

What I Like: The story is crisp and well-paced, with short leave-you-hanging chapters and lots of action. It's a combination of the fantasy, mystery, and thriller genres. It provides just enough tantalizing clues to allow the reader to speculate about crimes and motives without giving away the ending. The Christian message in this book is very subtle, which gives it a crossover appeal into the general market.

What I Dislike: Nothing, really. The author could have perhaps gone into greater detail on the faith aspect of Elizabeth's parents and why that bothered Elizabeth so much, but this may have risked the crossover appeal. Besides, I suspect this will come more into the forefront further on in the trilogy.

Overall Rating: Very good

Age Appeal: Young Adult, according to the publisher. I think it would appeal to ages 12-18.

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2008; ISBN: 978-0-310-71436-1; Paperback $ 9.99

Buy it Now at for $7.99

OR Buy it at for $9.99.

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