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The Seven Rays
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The Seven Rays

3.9 22
by Jessica Bendinger
 

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Right after Beth Michaels starts having mysterious visions, she starts receiving anonymous messages that imply she is not who she thinks she is. As if that weren't enough, she's starting to suspect that her mom has been keeping secrets from her. But when her mother has her committed after Beth claims she can see people's pasts, their fears, and their secrets, Beth

Overview

Right after Beth Michaels starts having mysterious visions, she starts receiving anonymous messages that imply she is not who she thinks she is. As if that weren't enough, she's starting to suspect that her mom has been keeping secrets from her. But when her mother has her committed after Beth claims she can see people's pasts, their fears, and their secrets, Beth decides it's time to decipher the clues and find out who she really is. But is she ready to learn the answer?

Screenwriter Jessica Bendinger delivers a fantasy that is unlike any you have read before.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this lackluster fantasy debut, 17-year-old narrator Beth Michaels has hallucinations of glowing dots, tentacles, and knots. Eye surgery is of no use, and Beth develops the ability of “retrocognition” and begins learning the graphic history of things she touches and hears. Vicariously feeling musicians' experiences with drugs and sex by listening to her iPod, or being subjected to the pain and slaughter of livestock after biting into pepperoni pizza, Beth is soon overwhelmed by sensory overload. Eventually, Beth's mother places her in a mental institution, but Beth escapes with help and heads to New York City in order to save her mother, whose life is being threatened. Screenwriter Bendinger (Bring It On) aims for hipness in her prose, but comes across as strained and awkward (“Shirl was covered in pink dots.... Then the dot-o-vision got all fuzzy and stopped. Sadly, eyelash Tourette's was not to be the diagnosis. Or the live-agnosis”). Though the ambitious premise is interesting and the characters are varied, much is kept in secret, making the unexciting final revelations even more disappointing. Ages 14–up. (Nov.)
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Super smart Beth Michael's growing awareness of her psychic powers and her increasing attraction to a supposed "bad boy" (Richie Mac) make a compelling tale. The woman she calls Mom has been keeping secrets about Beth's life and continues to lie even after Beth receives a gold envelop with the cryptic phase "You are more than you think you are." Strangely the envelope is addressed to Aleph Beth Ray and is from a company called 7RI in New York City. Richie is mesmerized by Beth after one mouth-burning kiss and ends up helping her reach New York to find her real identity. They discover that she is the seventh sister of a group with special powers born to the same mother but fathered by men of different races and ethnic backgrounds. Their mother is dying after having "ingested illness" from many sick people in a New York hospital. Beth passes the tests imposed on her and, with her sisters, heals their mother. Richie has been warned to abandon Beth for his own good, since she is destined to be the next breeder of the seven rays, who are forces of good (I guess). Though Richie tries to leave, he cannot and their second kiss is thrilling and electrifying, but not "mouth burning." I liked this book until the last few chapters and then it began to stretch even my very rubbery imagination. My disbelief came from the woman who had raised her totally rejecting her and burning all her things because Beth chose to find out who she really was. There is no explanation why she stole Beth from the hospital to begin with and no explanation why she thought the 7RI group was bad; but, still, the writing is intense and the book is a fun read. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up—Beth, a straight-A Columbia University-bound senior from Illinois, suddenly begins seeing odd images that do not make sense. Pink dots cover her best friend, and woven braids appear to jump around her mother. When she receives a letter postmarked from New York City that reads "You are more than you think you are," Beth wonders if that is indeed true—or if she is losing her mind. In the midst of all this, Beth falls for an older troubled classmate in one her elective college courses. A first kiss leads to literal electricity, extreme heat, and Richie's entanglement in Beth's mysterious and terrifying life. He aids her in an elaborate escape from a mental-health facility and a cross-country trip complete with a not-quite-sex (but still graphic) scene in a motel. Beth's journey ends when she encounters the group that sent her the puzzling letter. They give her a series of elaborate tests, most of which are a typical teen's worst fears realized, including stripping in public and getting an extreme haircut. Beth's baffling challenges are explained by weak and contrived metaphors. Bendinger's overly complicated, lackluster first novel fails to engage readers. Clever quips reminiscent of the author's Sex and the City writing career do little to spice up the reading experience of this odd fantasy/adventure. Too many convoluted plotlines arise with answers too few, and the characters do not engender much sympathy or interest.—Tara Kehoe, Plainsboro Public Library, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Just before her 18th birthday, brainiac Beth Ray Michaels begins seeing colored ropes of light attached to her friends and family. She believes her vision is playing tricks on her until she receives a gold envelope with a note that reads: You are more than you think you are. Beth's visions increase in frequency, and her psychic powers elevate to the point where a battle with an unseen force lands her in a mental hospital. With the help of a sympathetic nurse, her boyfriend and a patient who shares many of her supernatural abilities, Beth escapes to New York. A kindly nun, who readers know is part of Beth's larger but ultimately unexplained destiny, sends Beth on a tarot-themed scavenger hunt to find her six psychic sisters. The unattractive cover, which is difficult to read, will deter readers, so they won't be troubled by the lack of plot resolutions, unimaginative characterizations and silly dialogue. Bendinger is the writer of several popular teen films, including the adaptation of Aquamarine, but her screen talents do not transfer to the novel format. (Supernatural. YA)
From the Publisher
"The Seven Rays is awesome, and teentastic...and freaky. Is there anything screenwriter Jessica Bendinger can't write?" — Greg Behrendt, coauthor of the bestselling He's Just Not That Into You

"The Seven Rays totally awakened the fantasy fangirl in me!" — Kate Brian, author of the bestselling Private and Privilege series

"The Seven Rays takes you on a journey of mystery, magic, adventure, and the intricacies of relationships and love. Read this book, enjoy the adventure, be inspired, but also find that part of your being where the paranormal becomes normal." — bestselling author Deepak Chopra

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781416938392
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
11/24/2009
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
HL660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN'T UNSEE. I DON'T know when I started seeing things. I don't know exactly when the little flickers started popping up, demanding my attention, mucking up my vision. I really don't remember. Which is annoying, because you think you'd remember the first time your life was about to change irrevocably. But you don't. When your personal cosmos explodes, you don't remember precisely when the match first strikes the tinder. Or when the wick on the TNT gets lit. Me? I just remember pink dots. Stupid pink dots.

The only dots I'd seen previously were dotted lines, where I signed my name: Elizabeth Ray Michaels. Beth to those who knew me. Elizabeth to those who didn't. I'm the only child of divorced parents, who neither speak to each other nor interact. This is a fact my overprotective, hardworking mother assured me was better than dodging my father's fists and his screaming. It is also a fact I've learned not to question. In my seventeen years I've mastered one thing: the art of staying out of trouble, and a knack for insanely good grades. That's two things. Two things that were about to change faster than a fourteen-yearold boy's voice. And a hundred times more awkwardly. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I don't remember if my eye-flashes first started when my mom blew a gasket over the fact that I didn't ever cut or style my long hair. Don't get me wrong: I brushed it and loved it. I had been growing it since I was seven. It was dirty blond, long and shiny, and the only thing I appreciated about my looks. Ever since reading that guys preferred long hair, I'd been growing mine. Superficial and shallow, I know, I know, but my hair was like my beauty raft: I clung on to it for dear life. Once Mom had tried to trick me into cutting it by giving me a certificate to a salon in Chicago. When I used it toward a mani-pedi? She ragged on me, and there was a red flashing dot. Like a flashing red smoke-alarm light that didn't stop for several seconds. On her head.

The second visual flare was when my bestie Shirl wouldn't admit she'd lost my favorite bag. She'd borrowed it. And failed to return it. Period. Okay. So, second to my hair? I loved my stuff. I didn't have a lot of it, but what I did have, I adored. My old stuffed animals, my clothes, my books, my shoes, my bags. We couldn't afford much, so I treasured everything and took good care of it. I guess I took "pride of ownership" a little too seriously at times, because I began naming things. Betty was the name of my favorite bag. So, when Shirl lost Betty and wouldn't admit it? This blast of dots went off. "You treat your stuff like it's alive, Beth." She was railing on me like she always did when she'd messed up. "Who names their stuff? You'd think they were pets the way you dote on them; it's ridic. And who do you think you are? Are you really accusing me of lying about something I could totes incredibly easily replace, anyway?" My things were like my pets. Betty was my fave and she was gone. And I was pretty sure Shirl was lying about it.

But that was all eclipsed by the fact that Shirl was covered in pink dots: tiny dots, pancake-sized dots, quarter-sized dots, nickel-sized dots, penny-sized and micro-sized dots. She was covered in all sizes and varieties of translucent, Pepto-Bismol pink dots. I was blinking so much at her she asked, "Are you developing eyelash Tourette's, or what?" Then the dot-o-vision got all fuzzy and stopped. Sadly, eyelash Tourette's was not to be the diagnosis. Or the live-agnosis.

Weird crap began popping in, out, and around people in my field of vision every day for weeks. I was terrified to tell my mother (who had a tendency to become hysterique about anything and everything), so I kept my mouth shut. I was tripping. Tuh-ripping. Although I knew there had to be a logical explanation for what was happening, I probably wasn't going to discover it in my crappy high school's version of AP Chem. Which wasn't actually a class at my school, but (drumroll, please)...a college-level course at the fabulously craptastic local community college! In fabulously craptastic New Glen, Illinois! Having sailed through high school with a 4.1 GPA, I finished junior year as a senior. The faculty decided my time was better spent off campus in collegelevel classes than repeating classes I'd already straight A-ced. I'd be spending most of what would have been my last year in high school as an exotic export: a New Glen High School senior dominating the academic scene at NGCC (otherwise known as No Good Criminal College). By the way, there is no one less popular than a high-school kid in a college class crammed with college-aged underachievers. I was an interloper doing something my classmates had never dreamed of: graduating early.

It was the only thing I'd ever done early. I'd developed late, shot up late, and shot out late. Shirl and I were the last girls in high school to have chests that weren't concave. We were never the cutest girls or the hottest girls or the most popular girls, the weirdest girls or the most annoying girls. You'd have to matter to someone, somewhere, to be any of those things. And we didn't matter. To anyone, anywhere. Not when we met at New Glen Elementary, not at New Glen Middle School, and not at New Glen High. We were pretty much invisible.

In private, Shirl was a drama queen, constantly battling the nonexistent five pounds she had to lose, or complaining about her bad skin that was perfectly clear. She did it to combat her biggest fear, which she vocalized regularly: "We are becoming snore pie with yawn sauce, Beth! C'mon, let's do something spontaneous and unforgettable!" Which usually involved the exciting rush of mainlining coffee at the local mall.

Shirl's hobby was the cool kids. She pined for invitations to their parties, shopped where they shopped, knew where they hung out and where they worked. She studied them like they were constellations in a telescope: She understood what they were and how they behaved and could forecast their movements better than an astronomer. The difference between me and Shirl was simple: She wanted to be a part of their solar system. I wanted to get the hell out of that universe. And into university.

There was, however, one particular planet that Shirl revolved around: Ryan McAllister. Ryan Mac was the younger half of the lethally gorgeous, perpetually delinquent Mac Brothers. Stunning and troubled, athletic and not so bright, Ryan and his older brother, Richie McAllister, were legends around New Glen. They had dreamy hair, dreamy eyes, and the kind of sad family story that let them get away with anything. I didn't know the details, but Shirl swore their father had abandoned the family under some kind of mob death threat involving guns and gambling debt. Their mother was in and out of rehab, and the boys were given the kind of free pass that is handed out to heart-stopping hotties with tragic life stories.

And how Ryan worked it! Ryan McAllister was the sworn nemesis of promise rings anywhere in a hundred-mile radius. Reputed to have deflowered bouquets of virgins, Ryan was legend. Arrested at fourteen, illegally driving an old motorcycle at fifteen, all-state in soccer and basketball by sixteen, Ryan Mac was drunk with power by seventeen. By his senior year Ryan had plucked more local buds than the horticulture industry. This naughty fact was how Ryan McAllister got his very naughty nickname: the Hymenator. His conquests were legendary, and were usually followed by the unfortunate and very public dangling of an unwrapped condom on the victim's locker. Needless to say, Shirl would've willingly offered her rose to him without hesitation.

"I'm feeling thorny" was her whispered giggle every time we'd cross Ryan's path.

"Hey, Charlene." Ryan always got Shirl's name wrong, and this didn't deter her.

"A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet?" I squeaked out, trying to protect her fragile ego.

"He knows I exist. I'm making progress." She was so gleeful about it. It was as if he'd just asked her out.

"Please don't lose your V to Ryan McAllister," I'd beg, rolling my eyes out of worry more than anything.

"He'd have to find it first," she'd laugh. "Unless I lost it already. Do you think my virginity is in the lost and found box in Principal Tony's office? I haven't seen it in a while...." She'd joke about her total lack of sexual experience. But despite Shirl's self-deprecating humor, I worried about the truth: She'd do anything for Ryan McAllister.

I reluctantly indulged her fixation by hanging out with her at the Bordens Books at Glen Valley Mall. Ryan worked parttime at the sporting goods store next door, and I could at least study and drink coffee while Shirl obsessed and memorized Ryan's flight pattern.

There wasn't one cool kid who Shirl didn't know something about. Grenada Cavallo — the style icon of New Glen — never wore the same thing twice, and her luxury Vuitton bags were way beyond what most kids could afford. Shirl would speculate relentlessly about their origin. "Do you think Grenada is a master shoplifter or master Web-shopper and deal-finder?"

"I no know," was my constant refrain. "They are your specialty, not mine." I needed to nail my physics test, and she was not letting me master Newtonian mechanics.

Shirl was sucking down her fifth coffee. "She says it's a wealthy aunt who works at Bergdorf 's in New York."

"I didn't realize the wealthy worked in retail."

"I know, right? Lucky her." Shirl was buzzing. "Did you see Jake's new tattoo" — she knew I hadn't — "on his lower back?"

"He got a tramp stamp?" I asked, incredulous. "How tacky and how tragic!" I detested tattoos. "Why not just wear a sign that says, 'Please think I'm cool. I'm begging you!' How'd you see Jake's lower back, anyway?"

"He took off his shirt in PE."

"Did the angels sing?" Shirl liked Jake. And by that, I mean Shirl liked all boys.

"Don't mock me. You're missing a lot, you know." Shirl said it in a resentful voice, like I'd abandoned her and made a horrible mistake by investing in my future. "And now that you're gone, he's probably going to be valedictorian."

She was trying to rile me up, and I wasn't biting. "I have to take as many college classes as possible. I can apply them as credits next year and save money. Gimme a break."

It took a second to process what Shirl had said. "And since when is Jake Gorman smart?"

"His grades turned around after he was diagnosed with ADHD. They put him on Adderall, and he's like an academic rock star now." She was sucking on a straw, flattening the end and picking something out of her teeth with it. "You are so out of it! You can always make up college credits. But you will never make up lost time in high school. Jenny Yedgar is gaining weight. None of her clothes fit, and I have to sit behind her triple muffin top every day in Trig. There's some supercompelling drama unfurling. Especially if you find back fat riveting."

"You are the most compassionate person on the planet." I laughed.

"Jenny Yedgar is a bitch. And the weight has only made her meaner. She's gone, like, all mad cow."

I had to get some studying done, so I pulled out the big guns. "Was that Ryan?"

'Twas a lie. But predictably, Shirl was out of her chair in his phantom direction at light speed. I took a deep breath to focus. I loved Shirl, but sometimes being friends with her was one-sided. In her favor.

As she ran toward her Ryan-stalking ground, little blobs of squiggles were streaming behind her, blurring like runny ink. Mine eyes are filled with eye mines! I said to myself as I tried rubbing them away. It didn't work. The act of blinking was becoming dangerous, setting off explosions without warning. I snuck home early and climbed into bed.

The next day at No Good Criminal College, the eyebomb really dropped. At 11:33 a.m. in Chemistry, I thought my eyeballs were playing tricks, for sure. Because Richie Mac was smiling at me. Richard McAllister. The Richie Mac. Brother of Ryan. In all his nineteenly glory. Eyes of an angel. Body of a god. Smile of death. He waved at me and I looked around. Nobody moved. I looked back. He waved again. At me. He shook his head as if to say, Aren'tcha gonna wave back? As I was about to catch my breath and wave, some weirdness said hello. I mean, it's not weird at all if the sight of dots animating before your very eyes is something you see every day. This time, the dots did something. They became giant fibers. Giant fibers braiding as they moved toward me. If the sight of three imaginary strands of nonexistent thread interlacing in the air is normal, forgive me. They didn't cover that in my SAT prep course. Fortunately, my unexpected encounter with Beauty and the Braid got all fuzzy and blurry and disappeared in an instant.

"I think the word you're looking for is 'hello'?" Richie said.

"Uh, hi-llo, I mean, hello," I blurted out as my cell began vibrating. My hello to His Royal Mackness was interrupted by a text. From my mom. DINNER 7:30. CHICKEN? It's like she knew I was lusting after a boy who was completely inappropriate for me in every way, so she was busting my nonexistent flow. I resisted the urge to tell her to stop ruining my first taste of human eye candy when Richie spoke.

"It's rude to take a text message in the middle of a conversation...." He grinned. Shirl would've died. He was so beautiful I lost the power of speech.

"Sorry — my mom — " And that phantom braid, I thought.

"Is she as pretty as you are?" Richie said, without a hint of irony in his voice.

My blood pressure reversed direction, pausing briefly in my throat before flooding my cheeks and ears with heat. I don't know, do your teeth actually sparkle? was my unspoken reply. I knew he wanted something, and I couldn't risk speaking with all the blushing taking place on my face.

"I was wondering if maybe you might wanna possibly join our study group? It's usually after class." I noticed two college girls loitering nearby. They seemed less than thrilled with the prospect of me joining their band. "I'm Richie." Even his voice was beautiful. How was that possible? I couldn't speak for a second, and he beat me to it.

"Do you want me to guess your name? I enjoy games," he joked.

"I'm Beth," I finally squeaked out.

"Hey, Beth" — he pointed his enormous hand at the duo, and I wondered how he could pick his nose with fingers that large — "that's Elena and...?"

"It's Marin, Richie. My name is Marin," the girl who was not Elena practically spat. Richie looked at me like, Sorry about her. He added a shrug that said, How can I be expected to memorize names? I'm way too yummy for that.

I pointed to my phone. "My mom is expecting me."

"I hope we'll see you after the next class, then?" He must've been six foot four, and he leaned on my table for emphasis, twinkling his freakishly long lashes at me. I felt him towering over me, pausing before saying, "Beth?" My legs went numb. I could've wet my pants and never felt a thing, my body was that paralyzed by his appeal. I wasn't hypnotized. I wasn't magnetized. I'd been Mac-netized. I barely mustered a nod as he walked away. There I was. In Richie Mac's Chemistry 101 study group. As my Mac-nosis wore off, I nervously slapped myself on the leg for being susceptible to his infamous charms. Maybe Shirl wasn't crazy after all.

Before heading home, I had to pick something up at my future alma mater, New Glen High School. The sign outside read THE RIDE OF ILLINOIS, the P in front of ride stolen long ago and never replaced. I texted Shirl to meet me in our fave spot: the girls' bathroom near the teachers' lounge. Other kids hated it because of its location. We loved it because it was always empty.

"What do you mean Richie Mac asked you to be in his study group?" I shouldn't have told her. She had that tone friends get when they are jealous, and I hadn't thought this through.

"Um, he says hello and that Ryan wants to marry you. I accepted on your behalf. I hope that's okay," I joked to ease the jealousy whammies coming my way. "You'll be honeymooning in Cabo."

"As long as the family doesn't mind if I don't wear white at the wedding. I'm planning on having a lot of sex before my wedding night, FYI." Shirl was joking. This was a good sign.

We'd each had our share of odd make-outs and exploratory sessions over the years, but we were both virgins. This drove Shirl crazy. "I'm just going to sell my virginity on eBay. It's such a curse. How much do you think I can get for it?"

"On the free market?"

"EBay is not a free market. You have to put down ten percent of your reserve price, so we really need to think this through. I'm thinking a million dollars." I spit out my latte.

"We could totally get a cool mill for your trampoline." The word trampoline was our synonym for the revoltingly unsexy word "hymen." I mean, a word that sounds like "Hi, men!" seemed like a funny thing to call the membrane that separates virginity from sexual experience with actual men. Don't get me wrong, I loved men and I loved my hymen, but we preferred "trampoline."

Whenever either of us said it, that was our cue to do a lame sing-along dance we'd made up in seventh grade. We'd cover our crotches with one hand, point our fingers sternly with the other, and chant, "Cross this line and you're a tramp! So do it while you're off at camp!" Then we'd shake our butts and marvel at how stupid we were.

"How did we start calling hymens 'trampolines' anyway?"

"I think you'd heard some story about a gymnast busting hers doing tumbling — "

"Oh yeah, and how trampoline starts with the word 'tramp' and is a giant elastic thing everyone always wants to bounce on — "

"But no one wants it to break — "

" — without protection!" we'd say in unison.

"Would anyone get that but us?" I asked.

"Of course not. No one's as cool as us. Except the Mac Brothers," Shirl cooed. "So what are we wearing to our double wedding?"

It was time to jet, and so I grabbed my stuff. "We really need to see the world, Shirl. There's a sea of guys beyond Ryan McAllister."

"We'll see the world on our double honeymoon. We'll wear matching outfits." We low-fived a good-bye, and I had a weird feeling she wasn't entirely kidding.

The school had called that morning and said I had a package waiting in the main office. When I got there, I was promptly lectured by Mrs. Dakolias, the school secretary. The moment she started speaking, her body grew something around it. I blinked. Out of thin air these gross knotted braids sprouted around her in every direction. Like I was hallucinating.

"We're not a post office for students. We're not supposed to accept your mail," she chastised, as she presented me with a trashed FedEx envelope. The braids evaporated into nothingness before my eyes.

"They had to send it twice," she whined. "The first time they spelled your name wrong. We couldn't even pronounce it, let alone think it was you." The original addressee's name had been crossed out and replaced with the following: ELIZABETH RAY MICHAELS, C/O NEW GLEN HIGH SCHOOL. I squinted at the newer Sharpie lettering, trying to decipher what name was underneath.

"What was the other name?" I asked, genuinely curious.

"I don't remember. It was some odd typo. We didn't sign for it the first time — there was no name like that in the roster. We sent it back." For someone who obviously disliked kids, Mrs. Dakolias had picked a strange job.

I nodded while staring at the envelope, pondering the return address. It was from a company called 7RI, with an address on Fifth Avenue in New York City. I didn't know anyone in New York City. I didn't even know anyone who knew anyone in New York City. It suddenly felt kind of glamorous to be getting a FedEx from the Big Apple. I hoped it was scholarship money. Please, God, let it be enough for Columbia, I said to myself, 'cause you know Mom can't afford it.

I didn't want to open the letter in front of anyone. "It's probably some scholarship information, or something. I'm sorry for any inconvenience, Mrs. D. Thank you for your help."

"Don't let it happen again," she grumped before returning to her filing.

"Beth?" It was Principal Tony, leaning out of his office and motioning for me to step inside. He was stuck in the seventies and was the kind of guy who you called Principal Tony. He broke up fights, and students liked him because he wasn't a total dick.

I really wanted to open my package, and I was getting impatient. He extended some paperwork my way.

"I called NGCC. I need some signatures on these," he lectured, "or you can't graduate early, Beth." I snatched the papers. Graduation — early or on time — could wait. I couldn't wait to open my package.

I headed to the restroom, entering the big handicapped stall. I hung up my bag, put a thick layer of paper toiletseat covers on the lid, and sat down. I couldn't take my eyes off that Sharpie lettering. There was an energy coming off the envelope that gave me a big feeling. Not the creeps or anything, but just like an anxious feeling when you are not expecting mail from a company called 7RI and they've sent something to your school. It was disconcerting and kind of thrilling. I prayed for big bucks. Big Educational Bucks, por favor!

I pulled open the tab. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. Inside was another envelope. Gold and small, like an invitation. On the front of the envelope, in very careful lettering, was the name Aleph Beth Ray. Odd typo indeed. It didn't even look remotely like my name, and I started to doubt it was for me. I rechecked the packaging. That was my name on the outside, right?

I flipped it over and saw a beautiful, antiquated wax seal. I carefully peeled it back so I could do forensics later. I extracted this heavy piece of pulpy, old-fashioned paper from the envelope. The message was written in block lettering. Only eight words. Eight words that read YOU ARE MORE THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE. I flipped it over. That was it. Eight words, eight words that couldn't possibly be for me.

Copyright © 2009 by Jessica Bendinger

THE KEEPER

YEAR AFTER YEAR SISTER MARY PERFECTLY TIMED the mailing of the gold envelopes, patiently sending them on precise dates from the headquarters of 7RI. The process was always the same: Mail a gold envelope with a specific message and wait for a response. Replies could take days, months, sometimes years. Sometimes they never came at all.

Mary took in the unobstructed view of the East River through her large office window. The new decorator had painted the walls an expensive shade of slate. The floors were polished to a high shine. The archives were securely protected by both manual lock and digital code. Fingerprint and voice recognition had been installed, and Mary delighted in the ease of inserting her finger and saying her name versus the cumbersome use of key and code. These precautions were there for a reason, and she had nothing but the greatest respect for protocol. But Mary was tired of waiting. Someone's life was in danger.

As she made her daily journey across the river to All Saints Hospital, Mary fidgeted. One of the biggest alignments in centuries was just around the corner. The legacy of the Seven Rays — an inevitability that had been promised before promises existed — was finally about to play out. She peeked out the back of her chauffeured town car, hoping the sunlight would relax her. Mary didn't get giddy, but this excitement was positively overwhelming to her. Nothing short of everything was at stake. Mary needed Sarah to hang on.

All Saints Hospital was not renowned for its successes. A small, private hospital serving up third-rate care, it employed an underpaid staff and served dissatisfied patients. The facility had faced bankruptcy on more than one occasion. All Saints didn't fit anyone's idea of first class, and it showed. Which is why it was so surprising when the cancer ward started releasing cancer patients. Without cancer.

Word about the "miracles" at All Saints spread quickly through the Catholic community. Some claimed there was a weeping Madonna in the mosaic tiles; others said the hospital had been built on a sacred burial ground. Some said it was the nun in the plain brown habit who sat with Sarah David every day.

"Good afternoon, Sarah," Mary cooed. "How are you today?"

"Sister Mary. Thanks for coming. I'm tired."

"I know, dear. But we're getting closer. Any day now."

"I don't know. If I can do it — " Sarah had survived months of IV feeding tubes, mechanical respiration, dialysis, and several bouts with deadly infection.

"Come now. Recite for me, dear." Mary took out her large knitting needles and began knitting a purple scarf.

" 'Canst thou bind the sweet influence of the Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?' " It pained Mary to hear the effort in Sarah's tone.

"Silly girl. You know I prefer the Tennyson, my dear."

" 'Many a night I saw the Pleiads, rising thro' the mellow shade, glitter like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.' "

"Lovely. Thank you." Mary noticed some unfamiliar faces outside the intensive care unit.

"They're from the Department of Health," Sarah wheezed. "Verifying the remission statistics."

"Again?" Mary shook her head. "Scientists hate the unexplained. I don't know why they get so worked up."

"They think the staff is fudging the figures." Sarah's voice was evaporating. Mary let her rest a moment, considering what lay ahead for the Seven Rays.

"List the names for me, Sarah."

"Matariki, Makali'i, Tianquiztli, Kilimia, Subaru, Krttika, Al-Thurayya." Sarah's accents were perfect.

"Always so good with languages," Mary purred. "The sites, please."

"The Temple of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Chichén Itzá in the Yucatán, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon in Greece, Mateo Tipi..."

As Sarah recited the list, Mary nodded to herself. The seven days of the week, the seven colors of the rainbow, the seven seas, the seven major planets, the seven notes on the scale, the seven glands in the body...

Sarah's lists all owed a debt to the Rays. One or more of the Seven Rays had always been murdered or slaughtered before the Great Work could be completed. Destiny always had its detractors. The Rays were no exception.

The Music of Sevens was about to be played again. For the first time in centuries these human stars were aligning, and providential dominion would be reclaimed. The imbalances and atrocities from centuries of patriarchal rule were about to be righted. The masculine had grown out of control. The feminine was about to take its rightful place. This planet was called Mother Earth for a reason. Yes, the Seven Sisters had been born before. This time they'd be protected. Mary was startled out of her contemplation by a familiar orderly.

"How are you, Sister Mary?" She loved the sweet Catholic boys. They were so respectful.

"Vince. If the doctor asks me to sign that do-not-resuscitate order again, the answer is still no."

"I don't know why they bother you, ma'am. The bills are paid; she's not hurting anyone. I guess it's the rules, when..." Vince trailed off, embarrassed.

"When what, Vince?"

"When patients are in, um, a persistent vegetative state, ma'am." Vince quietly adjusted the tubes coming out of Sarah's otherwise motionless body. A body that had not moved, blinked, or taken an unassisted breath in more than eighteen months.

"Vegetables are alive, Vince," Mary said sweetly, as Sarah's machines clicked, pumped, and beeped, "and so is Sarah."

Copyright © 2009 by Jessica Bendinger

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Meet the Author

Jessica Bendinger is a movie writer, producer, and director who lives in Los Angeles who has written such screenplays as Bring it On and Stick It. This is her first teen novel.

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Seven Rays 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
I should give anyone reading this review a warning. I will be ranting. A lot. Firts off, this was the weirdest, most ridiculous, juvenile, annoying book I've read in a long time. And the most painful thing is that it could have been great. It really could have. Underneath the mess of a plot were some good, orginal ideas. Unfortunatley, several things ruined it. Let's start with the narrator. Beth is supposed to be smart. She is a seventeen year old senior finishing high school early and taking college courses. Instead of a sophisticated young lady, we get a narrator who is fond of bathroom humor and nonsensical slang. Seriously, she is constantly talking about bodily functions. Her slang isn't cool or hip, but something a twelve year would be embarrassed to say. She refers to her visions as "grooze" or "feelsees", and uses them casually in conversation as if anyone can tell what the heck she is talking about. She is not witty either, just very cheesy. Beth devotes the same amount of energy to worrying about body odor as she does in life-threatening situations. I just cannot believe some of the stuff the author wrote. My eyes were in constant eye-rolling motion. Then there is the romance between Beth and Richie aka Hot Guy. Who is Richie you may ask? Richie is the attractive older guy who suddenly falls for our narrator after spending five minutes with her for no apparent reason at all. Other than that, I have no idea who he is. I have no other physical description of him other than that he is hot, and his only personality trait is that he is "sweet". I know he has a younger sex-obsessed brother and an alcoholic mother, but these concepts were just pushed aside in order for Beth and Richie to have more "omg we can't make-out or else risk electrocution" time. Other than that, it was just flat out weird and weirdly written. I have no problem strange if it is at least written well, but this is not the case. Bendinger would rely far too much on the visual, assuming her readers know what the heck is going on. She might as well have been describing a keleidoscope. She would often clump up the supernatural. Some parts would be devoid as so much as a "feelsee", then others were just leadened with it. The ending was rushed, but nothing was resolved anyway. I'm not sure whether this book is a result of an author trying to be hard to be trendy, or an author having a good idea lazily executed. I just pretty much hated it the entire way. My lip was constantly curled in a snarl. You might be asking why I bothered to finish it then. Once I have an answer I shall get back to you. I will not be reading the sequel.
acsimps More than 1 year ago
This story was good but not great. I was a little frustrated by the terminology used. I know that it is a young adult book but I felt like it was a little juvenile at times. The main character is supposed to be smart (graduating early) but she uses words like feelsees, grooze, and talks way too much about bodily functions. The love story wasn't as well developed as I would have liked. The love interest kind of just wakes up in love with Beth. I don't want to give too much away but after I was done I was left wondering if it was even real love or some kind of "spell." Anyways, the over all idea behind the book was really good the execution just wasn't right. I hear that there will be a sequel. I might pick that one up..we'll see.
BonnieSalvatore More than 1 year ago
This book was awesome, from beginning to end. I love Beth character and I loved her with Richie Mac. The book was amazing and such and awesome concept. I hope there is a sequel. There has to be one.
redleocat1 More than 1 year ago
The Seven Rays is Original, unique, and put's a great twist in a simple message about growing up and finding yourself. I couldn't put this book down. All i know is that I WANT A SEQUEL!! please... lol. the Story was very interesting and weird(in a good way), I liked Jessica's style of writing, great sense of fantasy, mystery and of course L-O-V-E. There wasn't a lot of romance in The Seven Rays but the connection between Beth and Richie is pretty cute, well developed, and well I loved them together. Beth is a really strong heroine and you can't hope but like her dorky-ness. She always the one looking for answers.Beth is part of a something special, she's not the only one with gifts. I find the other characters well..... unique and different.As for Richie, he's described as THE HOTTEST GUY around, i found him to be the all American type guy. He's cute and definitely LOVESTRUCK. He was there for Beth when she thought she was crazy, the shoulder to cry on and leave you snots on lol. aww I don't want to spoil it, i really really liked the book. It's probably the best journey I've been taken on in a while. I can't get over how different it was compare to all the books I've read. Awesome characters and a great plot what more can you ask for?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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librachic More than 1 year ago
I was immediately drawn in to this novel by the gorgeous cover and the plot looked intriguing too,Beth discovers that she has the power to see people's past,and is able to learn everything about them,she is attracted to Richie McAllister,she sees dots and braids on and coming out of everyone and she receives a message in an golden envelope saying she is more then she thinks she is,I found the concept of the seven rays unique and interesting,All of the seven rays are born of the same mother,Sarah but of different fathers,making them all half sisters,They have amazing powers and are fun to read,Beth's perspective is extremely witty and i very much enjoyed the novel as it was quite an adventure.I felt that the romance was not written much about but I think if the romance was the focus the story would not have been as good.
pagese More than 1 year ago
I wanted so badly to like this book. The idea sounds interesting, but the book fails on so many levels. I don't think Beth dealt with her new visions in a believable manner. And some of the events are just way to far off the charts. Orgasmic ipod listening sessions and toilet humor are just two of the things you will be treated too. And, I think the worst thing was learning that Beth would be required to have 7 children by 7 different fathers to fulfill her duty as the 7th Ray. I'm not ok with that in a teen book no matter what she is. So in the end, this book was just way too weird, which is a let down because I think think the idea of the seven rays would make an interesting story. Just not like this....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an absolute fun read! A crazy and interesting ride and original! Bendinger had me literally LOL several times. A couple times I was seriously in hysterics. Don't expect a great literary piece with this one. I think that Bendinger capitalizes on weird with The Seven Rays but it's a good weird. The only thing that I didn't like was the ending. It was too sudden. I still have a lot of unanswered questions. However, I don't really want a sequel because I don't know that there's a whole book more of a story to tell. Usually I need a tidy little ending and if I don't have one it drives me crazy. But with The Seven Rays it seems to work! I would expect people to have strong opinions about this book...either you will love it or hate it."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Jozown More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. I edges on science fiction and a kind of romance with what might be. The lead character was a strong female. Although I am a mature reader, I beleive many young people would love this story. Ms. Bendinger weaves a great tale. I highly recommend it to anyone 15 years old to 10o years old.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
It all started with a single golden envelope addressed to Beth. "You are more than you think you are." That's all the letter has to say to her. Then the visions start, and Beth has no idea what to make of them. She sees lines, knots, and ropes, different types surrounding each person. And now when she touches someone she sees their darkest secrets. The envelopes keep coming, and things get crazier. Each envelope is more confusing than the last, offering little explanation for what's happening. Beth doesn't know what's going on, and she's beginning to think she's crazy, as is everyone around her. What exactly is she? THE SEVEN RAYS brought a completely new concept into young adult literature, forming a new twist on the average paranormal tale. The reader is just as lost as Beth, but the story is pieced together eventually. The pacing is just right; there's always a new bit of information or some crazy occurrence right when things are slowing down. The entire premise was exciting, and though the ending was rather rushed, it still held my interest. Beth is fairly immature, but she's still a likable character. Her love interest, Richie, is quite exciting! Although an original bad boy, I felt that he truly changed for Beth. Their relationship was rather sudden, but I still found it to be believable. THE SEVEN RAYS offers a fresh take on an old subject. I recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good paranormal read.
BookAddictions More than 1 year ago
I've been over this time and time again and i can't decide how i feel about this look. Yeah, i liked it...but i like a lot of books so what makes these one different. If anything, it's incredibly unique and original and i give the author complete props for that. However, towards the ending, i began to lose interest and i only ended up a bit confused (of course, keep in might that this could be just me). All in all, it's definitely worth the read and once i started, i couldn't stop until i was finished.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book but i ended up really liking it!