David Bridger is a very talented author whom I had the luck to encounter when he was just starting out. Since then, I have picked up most if not all of his titles, though I haven’t always had the chance to read them yet. Such was the case with Gifted, which waited patiently until now, so imagine my surprise when it felt very familiar. I originally thought it was a new book set in a world known to me, but then realized it was a reboot of an older book.
I’ve never read a reboot in book form before (though it happens with movies all the time) and found the process rather fascinating. The main characters in the modern timeline are new and different in so many ways while the older characters in the other timelines have only minor changes, at least based on my memory of The Weaverfields Heir, read a handful of years ago or more.
Gifted is a strong book that stands alone. At the same time, for those who read the first version, I can say that I, who does not tend to reread books, enjoyed this version a lot. The strength of the world with its characters having a connection to the fabric of the universe is still there. The way that power can warp perception is also there, preying on the good and evil in all of us. Also evident is the strength of purpose in Jessica when she takes on her newly discovered extended family while at the same time trying to find a way to help them.
This is a magical realism story in a lot of ways, though borrowing more from Romany culture than Latin American, but fundamentally it’s a people story. You get to visit the lives of many characters whose histories are planted on the net, as the connection is called, in all their glorious and hideous detail. Through three separate generations of net holders, Gifted explores the ways such power to control and manipulate can be used and misused, as well as what affect it has on the user. Jessica and Joe are the newest to the net, but they can learn from Nick, Peter, and Catherine both the beauties and the costs of their unusual inheritance.
The book includes cruelty, detailed sex scenes, betrayal, and consequences. It’s not a light read by any means. At the same time, Gifted explores the human psyche deeply both in moments of love and ones of madness. I’m glad I had the chance to experience this take on the earlier story. It’s powerful, unsettling, and thought provoking.