May Contain Spoilers
I was excited to dive into Paradox by AJ Paquette for a number of reasons. First, Paquette wrote one of my favorite reads from last year, the moving Nowhere Girl. Second, it’s a science fiction novel, and there just aren’t enough of those to go around. And third, the premise sounded fascinating. Was it? Yes and no.
Ana wakes up strapped to a chair in a rocket ship. She has no memories or recollection of her past. She doesn’t even know what she looks like. She only knows her name because she has a name tag pinned to her jumpsuit. She finds a note instructing her to Experience. Discover. Survive. Talk about a bare-bones mission statement! At least she’s well supplied, with a massive backpack that seems to contain her every need. Whoever packed it must have been a boy scout.
In rapid succession, she is attacked by a monstrous, dagger-toothed worm, discovers that she wasn’t the only one on the rocket, and learns she has a limited amount of time to accomplish her goal, whatever that is. Ana’s lack of memories and knowledge of her past made for a tense, gripping read. It also led to a great deal of frustration on my part when it’s revealed that her companions have retained all of their memories, and that they know exactly what’s going on. While that was crucial for her mission parameters, it’s one of my least favorite tropes in YA fiction. It’s almost as though the other characters think the protagonist is too stupid to be trusted with the knowledge needed to know what’s going on. Instead, our intrepid little heroine stays alive through a mixture of luck and sheer determination, marching towards the end of the book. I felt the same way here, and maybe it’s because the other characters make no secret that they know what’s going on, and keep insisting that they’ll fess up the details at the end of their journey. Should they ever arrive at that destination.
Along the way, they are attacked repeatedly by that scary worm thing. It was stalking them. I was hoping for a guest appearance by Tremors’ star, Kevin Bacon, which would have proven beyond a doubt that all steps truly do lead to Kevin. Ana and company are also in a race against time. Ana awakens wearing a timer that is counting down the hours until the end of their mission. What happens when the timer reaches 00? Nope, we don’t know that, either, but it must be pretty awful.
I found Paradox hard to put down. It is a runaway freight train of adventure. Danger! Danger! Will Robinson! It’s everywhere! The writing is tense and in the moment. At first the third person present tense narrative turned me off, but I quickly grew accustomed to it. It kept me engaged in the story, running frantically with Ana and Todd as they navigated the strange, deadly world they found themselves on. I wanted to know what the heck was going on, and how Ana was going to survive, given her massive deficiencies. And the counter was always there, steadily ticking toward…what? Doom? Rescue? Dinner??
There is one caution I will give, and that is that Paradox reads more like a middle grade novel than YA. Since I enjoy reading both, I wasn’t put off by the fact that I thought this book skewed to younger readers than I had expected.
Looking for a frenzied summer read? Paradox flies along like a summer action flick, offering tons of adventure and excitement. There’s running! There’s mountain climbing! There’s a scary jaunt through a dead forest! And did I mention – killer worms? Yeah, it’s got those, too. So, my verdict for Paradox by AJ Paquette is just one word – FUN.
Review copy provided by Rockstar Blog Tours