Difficult, dark, complicated, and brilliantsome of the adjectives one could use to describe Goobie's bleak work. She has envisioned a future world in which there is mind control, a totalitarian cult, and few ways to escape. We first met Nellie in Flux, and that was a complicated story too. This one begins with Nellie's twin, also called Nellie, in training as a cadet in an underworld. Her life is filled with violence, mind control, and a religious cult that teaches her that the Goddess wants her to kill the people outside. She trains and carries out works of sabotage with teams of other cadets. Part II of the novel brings her together with her twin, as the cult tries to link their minds to create a powerful force that will bring more people under the cult's power. The twins come together from entirely different points of view and their fury with one another is as potent as whatever love they may feel as twins. This is every bit as sophisticated as any adult fantasy/SF and demands a lot from a reader. The violence, the obscenities, the torture and mind control are disturbing, to say the least; equally disturbing is how familiar much of Nellie's world is to those who know history and follow current events. The excitement of violent video games, the mind control of true believers, youthful suicide bombers, the demonization of the "other"we know about these in our own culture here and now. (Sequel to Flux). KLIATT Codes: JSRecommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Orca, 279p., Ages 12 to 18.
In this sequel to Flux, twelve-year-old Nellie Joanne Kinnan is an Advanced Cadet in the Black Core Program at the Delta Training Center. She spends her days learning how to use weaponry, running mazes with the intent to kill, and undergoing intense physical and emotional trainingall the while asking herself to what end. Although she believes she is serving the Goddess, she knows little of her past or how she came to be a cadet. Further complicating her sense of identity are the regular brain-washing experiences she undergoes in the elimination of memories deemed unnecessary by her teachers. Nellie is a successful cadet who is asked to complete the most dangerous and important of missions, including the planting of a bomb in a museum beyond the walls of the Delta complex. She prides herself on the high body count she achieves and learns to love to hate. When Nellie's twin sister attempts to rescue her from the facility, however, Nellie is forced to call into question all that she has believed to be true. She learns the truth about her mother, about her perceived enemies, and, ultimately, about herself and her destructive role in a war made up by those wishing to instill fear in the common people. The novel is fast-paced, even poetic at times, but it remains confusing due to the complications of travel between levels of reality and the subsequent existence of doubles (humanlike duplicates who lack physical form but can interact with others). The final escape from the Delta complex, in particular, feels contrived. Goobie misses an opportunity when she pays short shrift to Nellie's time outside the complex carrying out the work of her superiors; this is where the controversylies and, subsequently, where Nellie's character could be more fully developed. 2005, Orca, Ages 12 to 17.
Wendy Glenn, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-Nellie, 12, lives in an unnamed world where she studies at Detta, training in the elaborate underground institution, darting through a lethal obstacle course, and worshipping the Goddess Ivana. She is one of Detta's top students and helps carry out terrorist attacks on the Outback populace at the behest of The Goddess (and her supervisors). She struggles to keep her mysterious dreams secret from the institution's smarmy, intrusive analyst, Dr. Wescott. Detta uses shocks and other "mind cleanse" treatments to keep the students docile, devout, and uninformed. When her twin suddenly appears in the maze, Nellie is forced to realize just how many memories have been shocked out of her system. She is slowly able to peel away the layers of lies that are her life; her strength comes from unexpected places, and her abilities, both those nurtured and those hidden, help her bring about a resolution that ends this particular story but opens the door for a third book. This is a sequel to Goobie's Flux (Orca, 2004), though it stands alone for the first half. Some of the later-half explanations are difficult to grasp and may work better for those who have read the previous title. The first part of the book is a little lengthy; it becomes repetitious to watch Nellie do something and then erase her memory but Goobie's world building is fascinating and faultless.-Sarah Couri, New York Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Puget Sound Council
"A fascinating and dark story."
"Goobie's pace is fast and furious....impossible to put down."
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A dramatic and compelling read."
Read an Excerpt
The chute opened and Nellie hit the threshold to the maze at a full run, body gliding like a snake, eyes alert for movement, any shadow that looked too dense or too oddly shaped. Once inside the small entrance lobby she paused, pivoting side to side in the gloom, one hand hovering at the stun gun in her belt, but the maze's opening section remaining quiet, nothing to be seen or heard except the sledgehammer thud of her heart.