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. Riveting, thought-provoking and utterly compelling, Linked will make you question what it really means to be human.
Ok, first off I apologize, I had meant to have this up much earlier so I could persuade those of you who haven’t joined Pulse It yet to do so, if only just to read this book! Unfortunately it’ll only be up for today, so if you’re a speedy reader, head over and join now! Skip the rest of the review and just read it, trust me it’ll be worth it. Otherwise, let me convince you of all the reasons you should get your hands on this book as soon as possible.
This is the first teen/YA sci-fi (honestly I have such a difficult time with the distinction between teen/YA/ and apparently what is now New Adult? Someone needs to give me some set guidelines!) I’ve read in a very long time. I read plenty of fantasy, and I guess Level 2 is sci-fi? I don’t know if it counts when you’re dead. Anyways, getting seriously sidetracked. My point being, if this is where teen sci-fi is going, count me in! It actually reminded me in many ways of Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series, so if you liked those, you will like this. And if you didn’t like them, don’t discount this book by that statement as the writing and plot are still very different.
We are introduced to Elissa who lives on a planet named Sekoia and is basically set up how we would picture a future earth: snazzy flying things, moving sidewalks that are all different heights in the sky, everything is electronic, etc. But Elissa isn’t like other teenagers here – she has graphic nightmares that physically appear on her body. She’s lost all of her friends and is considered a freak because she appears at school with bruises so badly they can’t be covered up by make up, and she can’t explain them, as they are the results of her dream.
I’m going to do my best to not give spoilers, and the back cover gives up this much information. Turns out she has a twin, and they have a mental link. All the dreams she's been having and the bruises she gets are because of what the other girl goes through. In this time twins have been extinct for centuries, so the other girl is seen as kind of a "spare". The novel is a fast paced thriller where the girls have to find a way to escape from the people who have been testing Lin and others like her, avoiding security systems, cameras, and even epic space ship show downs! The sci-fi world is beautifully described, the space battles are intense, the escape through the city is fast-paced - it's really a thrilling read!
What I loved most about this book is how believable all the characters were. All of the relationships and reactions are exactly how people usually work when confronted with new and stressful situations. Elissa is freaked out by Lin’s appearance, since no one in her world looks exactly like another. She feels protective of this girl who clearly has no knowledge of the workings of the outside world, but also scared and distrustful of her. Lin lacks a lot of empathy people would expect from the other heroine of the story, but it makes sense with what she’s gone through and how she was raised. If you were raised to believe you were not human, went through years of torture, and were not at any point assimilated to human culture, would you think twice about wanting to kill someone? In fact , Lin is positively normal considering what she went through. Lin has also always known who Elyssa is, so I think it makes perfect sense that while Elissa is worried that she’s helping a psychopath escape, Lin trusts Elissa completely. I love that neither sister is depicted as a Mary Sue. Both heroines are flawed, and all of these flaws are clearly pointed out when they are put in comparison to each other, as there are stark contrasts in their personalities.
Then there’s Cadan, Elissa’s older brother’s hunky best friend. She idolized him as a child, but now they’ve grown up and there’s a lot of friction. Of course, Cadan is the only one around when Elissa is desperately trying to get off the planet with Lin. I loved how their relationship unfolded. When the truths came out, one or both of them would get unreasonably angry (at least in the eyes of the reader, who usually knew both sides of the story), but then they would apologize and say they needed some time to take it in, etc. And honestly, isn’t that how people relate? We overreact and get angry, even when we know we’re wrong! We hate being thought of in a poor light. We have a hard time in these circumstances seeing the other person’s point of view. Most importantly both Elissa and Cadan misinterpreted information about the other person. Both of them were wrong, and finding out this new side to the other person as well as their experiences fighting to escape. It was this that prompted them to let go of what was holding them back from developing their feelings for each other – not some instant attraction. Nor was it one character being perfect and the other building up dislike for no reason – they were both at fault. I guess to sum up my feelings on how romance was treated in this book, I loved that it wasn’t the point, or even one of the main focal points of the book. The focus was still the government conspiracy, Lin and Lissa’s relationship, and how on earth they were going to survive! I loved that it wasn’t insta-magic love like most teen fiction these days (or really any fiction. It makes me queasy). There was no sacrifice on either part, they weren’t completely dependent on the other, and there was NO LOVE TRIANGLE!!! It was exactly how I think a relationship SHOULD develop. My only unhappy remark was that the switch from hate to love was a bit abrupt. I would have liked some more build up there as they slowly realize their feelings - more romantic than respect which is what I think we see. But if I had to pick the vomit worthy unexplained obsession I see in other books and what was here, I'd pick this romance hands down. The love confession was a bit jarring, but from all accounts near death experiences have that effect, so I'm forgiving that.
I especially liked the ending (spoilers). The best part of the ending? Even though I think it IS set up for a sequel, no cliff hanger! I've come to realization recently that cliff hangers have become a part of my life (and I NEVER handle them well. Seriously. I spend days of my life online scouring for any morsel of news. It's not healthy) as have series. I get it, they're lucrative, but I think I've forgotten what it's like to read a book and love it just because it's amazing without worrying about a continuation. Or to continue a series not because I HAVE to know what happens, but because I loved the first book so much. So kudos to you Imogen Howson, I hope you start a new trend! Fleshed out characters, no ridiculous romance, and no cliff hanger at the end, let's do it people!
Overall the book was extremely well written - the characters are fleshed out, their relationships are all believable, there’s epic space battles, a dash of romance, government conspiracies, ESP, AND a potential set up for a sequel, although it ends in a place that could just end the book. I could not recommend it more highly!