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Dennis Batchelder
A young adult tale of friendship, betrayal, and destiny, Oversight depicts one girl's journey to observe her past lives-and how they will shape her future. Zelly is a seventeen-year-old computer geek growing up in present-day Seattle. She's also one of the last three reincarnated leaders of Soul Identity, an ancient organization that promises to pass people's fortunes and memories to their future selves. Along with her two closest friends, she'll ascend to power when she turns nineteen...if she lives that long. On the eve of her friend's birthday, Zelly suspects her friend Ying is trying to kill her. Her fears escalate when they both get their hands on a vike portal, a new technology that lets them vividly see, feel, hear, touch, and smell what happened in their past lives. To her dismay, Zelly realizes that Ying is the reincarnation of a power-hungry leader, and their rivalry has played out for centuries. Zelly scrambles to outwit her friend and rival. She thinks the vike technology will help her predict her future, which she believes is preordained by the past. Each trip to her past life brings Zelly wisdom, but what she uncovers from her shared history with Ying threatens to upend everything she knows about friendship and her very soul.
Batchelder offers a present-day sci-fi thriller full of futuristic technology, time travel, and themes of life, death, legacy, and reincarnation, centered on Giselle “Zelly” Oliveira, Ouyang Ying, and Simon Green, three teenagers tasked with the important job of becoming overseers for the ancient “Soul Identity” collective. The organization is a grabber of a story hook: among other things, Soul Identity runs the world’s “oldest and richest bank,” handling the trillions of dollars that have accumulated, over centuries, for the organization’s depositors, to benefit “their future, reincarnated selves.” Zelly can’t step into her overseer position until she turns nineteen. But Ying reaches that age months before Zelly does, and Simon and Zelly suspect that Ying will be out to eliminate them both to gain sole control, as other overseers have done to their counterparts in the past.

It’s a wild ride, full of action and suspense, as Zelly learns about friendship, betrayal, and her own strength. For all the high-concept excitement, Batchelder does a wonderful job with world-building and character, making the stakes and people seem real, especially the ambitious, highly intelligent Zelly, whom readers will relish rooting for. The teens get introduced to technology that allows them to "vike,” vaulting into past lives of their soul ancestors. Zelly's fear of Ying leads her to want to know more about her past soul line, and it is through this process she discovers that she and Ying have been rivals in a past life.

One of the many clever twists: Zelly notices after her first vike experience that she’s taken on some of the characteristics of the past self she'd encountered. In the present she must come to terms that she may not be the best judge of character of the people around her, including herself, as she takes some extreme measures to try to stop Ying—or what she suspects Ying might do. This is a fast-paced, action packed adventure that readers up for time-crossed, head-spinning adventure will devour.

Takeaway: This tense and clever adventure of reincarnation and a secret society will please lovers of YA sci-fi.

Great for fans of: Lauren James’s The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, Alechia Dow’s The Sound of Stars.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A