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Frederic Martin
Author
Forest

Young Adult; Mystery/Thriller; (Publish)

Running from her past, Blue finds herself crashing right back into it in this exciting and emotional finale to the Vox Oculis trilogy.

Vox oculis ability allows Blue and Will to delve into the hidden thoughts behind people’s words and emotions, but what happens when that insight leads them astray?

Blue’s unexpected encounter with Babineau’s bodyguard causes her to disappear in the belief that it is the best path to protect herself, her friends, and the O’Days. But during her months-long exile, flashes of her past pop up everywhere, uncovering a tapestry of truths that draws everyone she was trying to protect into a deadly confrontation that no one could predict . . .

Reviews
The Prairies Book Review

 

Brilliantly wholesome and deeply heartening… A true page-turner

Martin’s scintillating YA latest, the finale to his Vox Oculis trilogy, has richly described worldbuilding, tight plot, and hefty emotion, making for a complex and layered story. Blue’s unexpected encounter with Babineau’s bodyguard shatters her newly gained sense of security. Believing her presence will endanger the O’Days and her friends’ lives, Blue decides to disappear. When memories of her past begin to resurface in flashes, Blue knows she must return to the place where all of it started. But with Babineau’s people on her trail, Blue’s plan is more than dangerous.

The chapters alternate between third-person omniscient narrative and Blue and Will’s journal entries, each in a unique and well-realized voice providing insight into the duo’s motives as well as deep feelings of attraction and admiration for each. The teens’ interpersonal dynamic is authentic, and their adolescent struggles will resonate with many. Will is sensitive, intuitive, and a tad bit insecure; Blue is ferociously independent, passionately determined, and occasionally frustrating.

Martin expertly weaves together both the individual struggles and the tragic family history of Blue as she pieces together heartbreaking past events in the aftermath of the present-day danger. Through the layers of story, even the minor characters come to life (Becky’s self-destructive streak is never far from the surface). Ma Beth, Pa Bill, Rosie, Wu, Sam, Nate, Anna, Mr. and Mrs. Woods shine through and through. Martin weaves elements of sci-fi into the novel’s unique setting with authority.

The narrative’s focus on Blue’s individual struggle occasionally overshadows fascinating SF worldbuilding. But her tragic backstory, the trauma in its aftermath, all of it adds to the depth. As the story moves forward, it becomes clear that there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent: the novel is more than a runaway teen’s struggle to survive in the big, bad world. Instead, it’s about the strength and courage of the human spirit in the face of difficulties, as well as what makes a family a family.

Throughout, Martin covers timeless themes of friendship and the strength of love along with teen angst, mental illness, homelessness, runaway youths and exploitation, drugs and prostitution, integrity, courage, and inner strength, while illustrating the effects of trauma. Many YA novels delve into similar themes, but few do it so beautifully.

A beautifully crafted, riveting tale; memorable and satisfying.

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