by Imogen Howson
To be published on June 11, 2013
by Simon & Schuster
Source: e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss
Connect with the author: website : Twitter : Facebook.
Summary (from Goodreads:) Elissa used to have it all: looks, popularity, and a bright future. But for the last three years, she’s been struggling with terrifying visions, phantom pains, and mysterious bruises that appear out of nowhere. Finally, she’s promised a cure: minor surgery to burn out the overactive area of her brain. But on the eve of the procedure, she discovers the shocking truth behind her hallucinations: she’s been seeing the world through another girl’s eyes. Elissa follows her visions, and finds a battered, broken girl on the run. A girl—Lin—who looks exactly like Elissa, down to the matching bruises. The twin sister she never knew existed. Now, Elissa and Lin are on the run from a government who will stop at nothing to reclaim Lin and protect the dangerous secrets she could expose—secrets that would shake the very foundation of their world.In 10 words or fewer: Sisters, outer space, we're in the Matrix...
My take: Linked takes some interesting ideas and mashes them up in an entertaining way. On the positive side: a realistic sister dynamic and a cool setting. On the negative: an odd romance, plus the fact that some plot developments are telegraphed to the reader from billions of light years away.
Did I mention that this story takes place in outer space? It does, even though this is not mentioned in the blurb. The book's opening chapters reveal that we're not on earth, but on Sekoia, a planet that has been colonized for mineral export. When the extraction process went wrong, the planet fell into debt and had to borrow from a consortium of "higher grade" planets. Then Sekoia developed a top secret super fuel that would power their spaceships into hyperspeed, a development that solved all their financial woes.
As the blurb indicates, the story focuses on Elissa, who's been having weird pains, hallucinations and bruises for years. Days before she is supposed to have brain surgery, Elissa discovers that she has a twin sister, and that her hallucinations are actually caused by some sort of psychic connection to her twin.
This, for me, was one of the strengths of the book. Though I never quite understood the connection between Elissa and her twin beyond some sort of urban legend Twin Telepathy, I still found the concept interesting. Elissa's sister has been held prisoner since birth and experimented upon, and Elissa frees her, only to find that her sister has never learned how to act --or feel -- human. The nature/nurture questions the book sets up are interesting, and the love -- and frustration -- that Elissa felt toward her sister seemed very realistic to me.
After that, the twins are on the run. Most of the plot of Linked felt like an extended chase sequence, with the twins running -- first around Sekoia, then through space. That was cool to a point, but I didn't love the fact that any time a character needed anything to get out of a tight situation, it was magically and conveniently taken care of. Got to go undercover? Good thing your father invents cool gadgets. Need to escape through space? Well, your brother and his cute best friend just happen to be pilots. Got to fend off some pesky space pirates? That cute pilot knows rope tricks that they taught him in pilot training. Just in case.
But the chase scenes were fun, complete with an "OMG -- can this ship get into hyperspace in time?" moment that brought back happy hours spent watching Han Solo and Chewbacca pilot the Millennium Falcon. There's a shocking development near the end that would have been more shocking if I hadn't seen the Matrix, but it was still a good twist, complete with a wrenching moment between the twins.
Romance fans may be a little disappointed, as I found the romance in Linked to be a little bewildering. The guy in question is introduced briefly at the beginning of the book, at which time it's pretty clear that he can't stand Elissa. He disappears for a number of chapters. When he reappears, Elissa lies to him and endangers his job. Then she 'fesses up, and they realize they're in love. As it was structured, the main plot just didn't seem to support the development of a relationship between these two.
Linked did have some interesting concepts, some fun futuristic world-building, some cool action scenes, and some good sisterly love and tension. While I did have issues with the plotting and the romance, if you are a fan of sister stories, space adventures and/or creepy scifi, you might want to give Linked a try.