This is a bizarre, wonderful book much like watching a train wreck but one in which everyone survives…if a little battered.
Through a chemical misfire with one of the components of the flu shot, twenty-two high schoolers are given telepathy. The reactions are much as expected, starting with “am I crazy” and escalating through the tradition fears of telepathy, both being heard and trying to overhear. So what makes this book work beyond the telepathic tropes? High school.
The book is written through the perspective of the telepathic students, a voice that becomes collective at points but also is individual, especially when one particular character is given the focus. They’re dealing with all the typical high school dramas–boyfriends, tests, family crises–except that speculation is exchanged for fact, welcome or not.
Through this ability, they are able to learn both how others think, how others see them, and how that affects their perceptions of themselves. A good portion of the book involves the consequences of private thought becoming public, but more than just exposure is key. For example, some who believe thinking about something but not saying it makes them not a horrible person, learn it just makes them horrible in disguise, the kind of harsh realization that changes a person.
It’s fascinating the different mental processes and perspectives, but the book is not light-hearted most of the time. These are teens who are unable to lie or be lied to. That opens a lot of doors, including ones best left shut. The amusing, such as the enhanced issue of sharing a wall with your parents, is mixed with learning things kept from you that transform your perspective on those around you.
I read books to meet interesting people doing interesting things. This one definitely qualifies. And if your high school is or was anything like mine, you’ll recognize some of the personalities in this book…perhaps even your own.
P.S. I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.