Déjà View is a coming-of-age/sci-fi novel about a 12-year-old boy who doesn’t want to grow up. After burying a time capsule to commemorate the end of the 1980s, he starts being haunted by ghostly doppelgangers of himself, his friends, and others. He calls them “déjà view.” Now, in order to survive his childhood, he needs to figure out if they’re real or if he’s slowly losing his mind.
Perone’s story twists into unexpected directions from there, eventually becoming a science-fiction thriller with a terrifying conclusion reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Throughout, though, Déjà View is attentive to character and the everyday impact of the fantastic on real lives, with engaging prose and sharp, funny dialogue. Nobody else can see these visions, so Bobby’s mother sends him to a therapist, Dr. Pann, to assist with what she believes are hallucinations brought about by hormonal changes. Though compassionate at first, Dr. Pann eventually reveals true intentions that will jolt Bobby’s life, as Perone ties the thriller elements into the everyday.
That attention to life as it’s lived, though, comes at the cost of narrative momentum, as much of the novel is dedicated to exploring the dynamics within Bobby’s friend group as the enticing mysteries percolate. Still, the climactic battle to save the fate of humanity, when it comes, is exciting and surprising, a mind-bender complete with lasers, evil scientists, and even love at first sight.
Takeaway: Character-driven sci-fi mind-bender centered on the pains of growing up.
Comparable Titles: Rae Carson’s Any Sign of Life, Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A