Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Book Review: SCHISM

Hey, remember when I did book reviews? That was fun. Let's start doing that again. In fact, let's blow the dust off with a book that will blow your socks off.  You've heard me interview the author - now let's handle up on the story!

by Laura Maisano

Art therapy hasn’t done squat for Gabe Jones. A thousand sketches of his fiancée can’t bring his memory, or her, back to him. Nothing on Earth can. His past lies in another dimension, a world just out of sight.

Another student on campus, Lea Huckley, unknowingly shares Gabe’s obsession with the fourth dimension. The monsters from the other side attacked her parents and fled, getting her folks locked up in the loony bin. Proving this other world exists is the only way to free them. Lea and Gabe strike a deal to help each other, and together they manage to open a door to the world of Gabe’s true origin. She’d use him for proof—if she didn’t already care too much.

While Gabe tries to reconcile his feelings for Lea and his rediscovered memories of his fiancée, a much more sinister plot unravels. He uncovers his history just in time to become the unwilling lynchpin in a conspiracy to start a war. His memory holds the secret to the final riddle the would-be conqueror needs to get the upper hand. Gabe must protect the riddle at all costs, even if that means leaving Earth, and Lea, behind forever.

What if you weren't who you thought you were?

What if you were someone powerful and important, maybe even from another world?

What if something horrible happened to your family, and you felt it was your fault?

What if you had a long-lost sibling you never knew about?

What if you loved someone you couldn't possibly have?

What if you had to destroy one of your best friends in order to save the world?

What if you got a lot of people killed?

Y'know, if you're anything like me, you'd agree that any one of those questions could make for a stellar book –but in SCHISM, we are hitting ALL of them at eighty-eight miles per hour.  Hold on to your hats, buckaroos: you're in for a wild ride.

Before we get into it, I have to tell you that I am probably the worst possible reader for this book, because I'm not usually a YA reader, don't go in much for romance, and want my fantasylands to read like magical molasses – rich, thick, and slow.  By comparison, SCHISM is a double-shot of espresso in a giant oh-shit to-go cup.

So what useful things can I, the worst possible reader, tell you about this book?  Well, for starters, you are in no danger of nodding off: from chapter one, page one, strange happenings are afoot, and every next verse is less like the first: a little bit faster, and a whole lot worse.  It's a hell of a plot, with twists and turns that make me legit jealous.  In a lot of ways, that's a great thing: no time for heroes to sit around and angst for a hundred pages, no drumming your fingers waiting for some inevitable, predictable "twist", no pointless waffling of any kind.  I dare say there is not a word wasted anywhere.  For me, that was a mixed blessing: I love the story, but wish we'd had more time to stop and smell the roses.  I'm dying to know what's for dinner in that universe-next-door, what the fashions are like, what the cool slang is, how people get married and what you say when somebody sneezes.  Sadly, there is not a lot of time for sightseeing here: there are so many plot points, all falling one after the other like so many awesome disaster-dominoes, that we don't spend a lot of time on any single one.

I tell you what, though: maybe it's just my inner curmudgeon speaking, but Lea warms the cockles of my cold and withered heart.  Like, I love me a tough girl with a gun, but it is so refreshing to see a heroine who's smart, empathetic, generous, compassionate, honest, and indefatigably bubbly-fun.  (I mean, that's like all six My Little Ponies in one. Is that even legal?!)  To be sure: it's not all kittens and rainbows here – there is plenty for her to be afraid of and/or upset about – but I love that her eventually-more-than-friendship with Gabe is the solid emotional bedrock supporting all of the unholy supernatural shenanigans that follow. 

Yeah, actually, I think that's the best way for me to summarize it: there's a portal-hopping shape-shifting havoc-wreaking worlds-colliding epic story starting up here (and don't think you're gonna see the end of it without picking up the next book) – but right from the first page is a warm, sweet center that gives life to the whole thing.  Take everything else I say with a grain of not-my-usual-genre salt, but I can promise you that SCHISM is a hellraiser with heart.

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My favorite bit:

It was stupid. What was she to him? Oh yeah, a college buddy. She was the loud, weird chick in the art class, not exactly his type. His type was Heather. Heather the beauty, the girl who seemed to sweat strawberries from her teeny-tiny pores. Lea couldn't compare to her alive, and now – a ghost was perfect. She could never live up to a ghost.


  1. It's totally against the "rules" to comment on reviews, but I have to. I love your description of the espresso from hell, because I love me some dark caffeinated doom.

    P.S. I am also in love with that comparison with Heather. :-D

    1. Dude, life is short and we're not getting paid NEARLY enough for putting ourselves through the psychological wringer. Comment away and caffeinate liberally - it's free, freeing, and fun!

  2. Who makes up those "no comment on review" rules?! NOT ME! :)
    Besides the only thing hard and fast, or solid and everlasting, are those stone tablets (commandments they're called, me thinks), now those are non-negotiable. Everything else is open for messing with! hahaha

    That said… here's my pennies worth… loved your review. You have a way with words. Like you, I don't mind stopping to smell that single rose - when I get thrown into the rose garden (50 pages worth) then I go for my hedge trimmers! A tempting review, might give this one a look-see. I'm all for fourth dimensions!

    1. Oops…. "penny's" I think is what I should have used. God help me with my spelling (only he's busy with more stone tablets, me thinks). Personally, me thinks too much! hahahaha

      Too early, not enough caffeine - that's my excuse, so there!

    2. Not me either - I'm all about the comment love!

      And yes, definitely check out the book - it's tough to get the rose-quantity exactly correct, but if you like it on the low side, you are going to love this!

  3. Replies
    1. I know it is, cuz you helped me with it! Thanks much for helping spread the love, Annie - you are everybody's favorite flavor :)