by Karen Akins
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Twist by Karen Akins

Bree Bennis finally has it all—a non-comatose mother, an uber-hot (albeit anachronistic) boyfriend named Finn, and a newfound mission to protect the timeline from those who would skew it for their own gain. But when she leans over one day to smooch said boyfriend, her lips meet those of her arch-nemesis Wyck instead. The timeline has been altered, and Bree is caught in the crosshairs. But when she goes back to repair the damage, she is stopped by none other than her Future Self, who delivers an urgent message: Someone is kidnapping Shifters from the distant past. It's up to Bree to stop them. But first, she has to figure out who…and why.

To follow the trail of chronocrumbs, Bree reluctantly accepts her new undercover gig as Wyck's girlfriend. Everything goes spiffy until Finn shows up in the 23rd century on the eager arm of a gorgeous fellow Shifter. Blark. Even as Bree struggles with jealousy, she battles the nagging dread that Finn might be better off with someone less chronologically complicated. Her worst fear is confirmed when Finn becomes the kidnapper's next victim. As Bree zeroes in on the culprit, they unravel her life one timeline-change at a time. She realizes that she alone has the power to save herself and everyone she loves. But to do that, she may lose Finn forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250031006
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 04/07/2015
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

KAREN AKINS lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light YA sci-fi. When not writing or reading, she loves taking care of her son and hanging out with her husband. And watching Downton Abbey. Karen has been many things in her life: an archery instructor, drummer for the shortest-lived garage band in history, and a shockingly bad tic-tac-toe player.

Read an Excerpt


By Karen Akins

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2015 Karen Akins
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-03101-3


THERE ARE FORTY-SEVEN RULES every Shifter must obey. I'd broken all but two of them. And I didn't know it yet, but I'd end up blowing one that hadn't even been created to bits.

My feet sank to the ankle in mud. Eau de manure mixed with the smell of meat roasting on a spit. My stomach simultaneously turned in revulsion and grumbled with hunger. I really needed to remember to keep energy bars in my pocket. Oh, well. Nothing I could do about it in ... I glanced down at my QuantCom ... ahh, September 3rd, 1666. That date rang a bell.

I hate bell-ringing dates.

A haze of smoke haloed the thatched roofs like a blanket. Angry voices erupted out of a tavern up the street when the keep kicked some drunkards from his establishment. They joined a throng of people pushing carts and carrying sacks, all headed the same direction. As the drunkards passed, their slurred Cockney tones were unmistakable.

I was somewhere in England. That matched the bells for some reason. But didn't make me feel better. I tinkered with my Com. It was practically useless since it didn't control or manipulate my Shifts through my microchip anymore, not that I missed being controlled or manipulated. At all. My Com pretty much acted as the world's fanciest pocketwatch now, telling me the date and location of where I landed when I naturally Shifted. Well, and it had a nifty stunner feature. But sometimes the Com took a while to pull info up. I was flicking the edge of the Com when a set of feet clomped down beside me on a wooden board.

"Ugh. That was close. Almost landed in the—" That's when the person who had landed next to me noticed my presence. Finn stifled a laugh at my muddy predicament. "Here."

He lent me an elbow to pull myself out of the muck.

"Fancy meeting you here, gov'nuh." I wiped a patch of mud off my hands so I could reach up and give him a smooch without mussing up his wavy auburn hair.

"Here being ...?"

"1666. Somewhere in London, I think."

"Yep. Aldersgate District." Finn pointed at a sign for an apothecary across the road, barely visible through the smoky haze.

"You're like a walking QuantCom," I said.

"Nah. I've been here around this time with Dad on mercy missions. Bubonic plague. It's one of his hobbies."

Finn's dad was a surgeon as well as a Shifter. Like Finn and me, he traveled through time and space. It was a hereditary ability. Finn's little sister had also gotten the gene. I'd inherited it from my mom's side.

"Your family is so weird," I said. Although more normal than my family, I guess, if you could even call us that. But Finn knew I didn't like talking about my father, so he didn't say anything in response. Besides, he was too busy coughing.

"Why does this date seem so familiar?" I asked. Quigley would kill me for not knowing my history.

"Uhh, Great Fire of London," Finn choked out.

"Blark." He was right. The fire had consumed most of the city over the course of four days.

This was only the second day, though. The flames were still confined to an area closer to the Thames, near the bakery where the fire had started on Pudding Lane. It explained why everyone was rushing out of the city like herded cattle, though.

"Aldersgate." Finn peered around looking for landmarks. "I remember there's a Haven near here. By Saint Ann's."

"After you." I gestured for him to lead the way.

Finn started down an alley then stopped short and spun around.

"Wait." He stared at me expectantly. "You almost forgot."

Good grief. "Do we really have to do this?"

He nodded.

It was kind of ridiculous, a plan that Finn had come up with for my benefit—to help me establish whether I was with Past Finn versus Present Finn (Well, not Present Finn. More like, Not-Quite-As-Distant-Past Finn). My Finn. Whatever. I was supposed to ask him a question that only the him that was dating Present Me would know.

Our relationship is going through what you might call a challenging stage right now. And by "right now," I mean "since the moment I met him."

"By virtue of the fact that you're asking me to ask, doesn't it establish that you are you?" I pointed out.


"Umm ... what song do you sing every time we're in the Institute greenhouse?"

"'It's Not Easy Being—'"

"Sing it." The right side of my mouth twitched up. If he was going to be a stickler, so was I.

He belted it out, froggy voice and all. I reached up and kissed him on the cheek, but he reeled me in closer. When I pulled away, he'd placed something in my open hand.

A chocolate energy bar.

"You look hungry," he said.

"What would I do without you?"

"Probably starve." He tucked the wrapper away in his canvas rucksack. His dad had trained Finn well over the last six months since he'd discovered he was a Shifter. Finn had once likened it to backpacking—whatever you carry into a time period, you carry out. Turns out most of the Rules of Shifting developed through common sense, long before Shifters came out of hiding.

I straightened Finn's rumpled T-shirt. That was one of the things I had taught him, to wear as plain clothes as possible. Even if he stuck out, he wouldn't be memorable.

Then again, I didn't see how it would be possible to forget someone as gorgeous as Finn.

He pulled a knit cap out of the sack, and I took one out of my pocket. Another little trick of mine. You could pass as a sailor in almost any time period with one. I tucked my long, light-brown ponytail up in the hat. I wished I could say I'd grown my hair out because I liked the way it looked. Nope. I'd just been too busy the last six months to bother with cutting it.

"Now, what do you think we're doing here?" Finn asked as I finished my snack.

"No clue." It was still hard for me to get used to, this Shifting back without a predetermined goal. As a chipped Shifter, every mission had had a reason behind it. Study something. Deliver something. Test something. Most of my trips as a free Shifter so far had been visiting Finn and his family or tagging along with my mom on art investigations. Finn and I also sometimes turned up at the same place in the past together, like now. But we usually ended up just poking around. Interesting, yes, but purposeless.

Well, that wasn't counting my trips back using the reverter. Ahh, the reverter. I pulled the device out of my front pocket. I never let it out of my sight—even for a moment.

Such a nightmare I'd gone through for such a small object. It looked a bit like a writing pen from Finn's time—long, thin, and cylindrical. Only this was no writing pen. When it went off—glowing green and vibrating like a ticked-off tea kettle—it meant that a nonShifter had made a change to the timeline in my present. Those changes in my time were only detectable by unchipped Shifters like myself. This device was the only thing that would put it back to normal. Unfortunately, the ability to detect those changes had the side effect of making us unchipped Shifters come across as a bit confused ... muddled ... fine, catpoop crazy. I didn't care though. I'd rather seem confused to the rest of the world than live a lie.

"This feels different from when we usually meet up," said Finn. I had to agree. Our typical meet-ups felt like a breath of fresh air. These smoke-filled surroundings were anything but.

"Maybe we're supposed to deliver a message between Haven members," I said. We turned back down the alley. The Haven Society was a meeting place for free Shifters, past and future. I'd never delivered any messages before, but I knew some of the Resthaven residents had friends in the past.

At the mouth of the alley someone slammed into my shoulder as he passed.

"Excuse me," I said before looking up to see who had bumped me. Whoever it was wore a suit made of a shiny, silver material. His entire head was covered with a hood and protective mask. Finn and I may have looked a little out of place in our nondescript clothes, but this guy looked like a space alien.

And last I checked, there were no seventeenth-century space aliens.

When the person looked back and saw me, he visibly startled. Then took off in a dead run. It looked like whoever it was had recognized me.

"Come on." I tugged on Finn's sleeve to follow.

The silver-clad person took off through the serpentine, narrow alley. As he ran, he knocked objects down behind him to block our path. I parted a dingy line of clothes strung between two soot-covered brick walls. The smoke grew thicker, clawing at my eyes and making it hard to see, which didn't make sense as we weren't that close to the initial outbreak of fires.

We reached the end of the alley. It ended in a T shape at the back of another set of buildings. The smoke had grown so profuse, I could taste it down the back of my throat. I squinted in both directions, not sure which way the silver-suited guy had gone. A cat hissed to my right, like he'd just been frightened. I took off that way, Finn close at my heels. It was easier to see this direction anyway. Someone had lit a bunch of lanterns in the street up ahead.

"Wait." Finn caught me by the shoulder.

"We're going to lose him," I said, trying to wiggle away from Finn. But then I realized why he had held me back.

Those weren't lanterns.

Something was burning. Something big. I tugged at Finn's hand and raced forward, my other hand clutching my Com, stunner out and ready. Ash fell from the sky like snowflakes. I skidded as we turned a sharp corner into the next street. My boot slammed hard into a puddle, and mud splattered my front up to my chest. I caught myself against a metal grate on the wall. It sliced my arm, and blood oozed out the gash. Dang it. Finn helped me steady myself. Flames licked out and greeted us from the storefront blazing across the street.

"Those poor people," I said quietly as I wiped mud and who knows what festering germs away from the wound. "Are we supposed to stop the fire?"

"How?" He had a point. It wasn't like they had instantaneous soakswitches from my time or even fire hydrants from Finn's. There was nothing we could do but stand there and watch it burn.

It went hot and fast, which actually appeared to be a good thing. The fire was so intense that it consumed the wood of the storefront before the blaze had the chance to spread too far.

Neighbors and shopkeepers poured out into the street and formed a sad attempt at a bucket brigade. They used hooks to pull down walls to protect bordering buildings. I thought over my Great Fire history and realized their efforts were a moot point. This area would be gone within a few days anyway.

My eyes sifted through the crowd searching for flashes of silver, but I didn't see any. I now recognized the silver suit for what it was—protective fire gear from my time, from the twenty-third century. That thing could easily withstand temperatures upwards of 2,000 degrees. Swarms of rats scurried away from the growing flames. Chaos flared up as quickly as the fire.

"I don't think anyone could survive that," said Finn.

I gulped. So why were we here?

"Bree." Finn shook his head slowly from side to side.

"Maybe, umm ..." Ugh. I couldn't think straight. It was so hot. I removed my cap and fanned myself. The breeze didn't cool me off, but it gave me a much-needed waft of oxygen.

"Bree, look." Gently, Finn turned my face so I was staring directly at what remained of the doorway.

There in a puddle by the already crumbling rafters floated three pools of wax with wicks barely sticking out, each still flickering a faint green.

This was the Haven.

So what had happened to everyone inside?

* * *

"Whoever it was, I think he's long faded." Finn scraped his boot through a pile of still-sparking ash. Only a couple hours had passed, but the street was almost deserted. The few people who hadn't already fled the city were busy grabbing belongings so they could.

"I know." I'd held out as long as possible, hoping the silver-suited person would return, but was clearly deluding myself.

"Hey, Bree." Finn stooped to pick up a piece of paper from the cinders. He waved his fingers, and it stuck to them. "It's compufilm."

"What?" I snatched it away from him. Compufilm was a twenty-third-century invention.

"What does it say?" He peered over my shoulder as I unfolded it.

"To save his, destroy yours," I read. "And then random letters and numbers and stuff with a bunch of blanks."

"Huh," he said. "Wonder what that means. To save his what?"


"And then who is the 'he' referring to?"

"Finn." I held the film for him to examine more closely.

"And destroy what?"


He finally glanced up. "What?"

"I wrote this. It's in my handwriting."

He snatched it back. "Was that Future You in the silver suit?"

"Couldn't be. That person towered over me. They were, like, six feet tall."

"Could that have been me?"

"I doubt it. That was twenty-third-century gear. Besides, I don't think that person was here to fight the fire. I think they started it."

"Why would they do that?" asked Finn. "This area is going to be destroyed by fire anyway in a matter of days. It all sounds so ..."

"Ominous." Blark. I hated ominous. I started to run my fingers through my hair, but my hand went limp.

Finn stared at me with a look of horror on his face. "Bree, your arm."

I looked at it and gasped. The arm that I'd cut had suddenly blown up three times its normal size and turned a gruesome orange. I knew these symptoms.

No. It couldn't be.

"Capuchin fever," I said. "It was eradicated thirty years ago. I mean, thirty years ago in my time."

"What's capuchin fever?"

"You don't have it back in the twenty-first century." I tried to wave the question off, but my arm had grown so swollen, it resembled an orange watermelon. "It's a dormant virus, but if exposed to the right germs ..."

"Make it stop!" said Finn.

"But I don't know why—" And that's when I felt it. Whir. The reverter was going off in my pocket. Son of a germ-infested monkey. Some nonShifter from my time had changed their past. As a result, a long-extinct disease had returned. "Come on."

Shifting while using the reverter felt different than when I was naturally called to a place. It resembled the sensation of when my chip used to dump me somewhere. Kind of like being shoved rather than pulled.

I held the glowing green device out and wrapped my good arm around Finn before clicking the end of it.

Shifters, chipped or otherwise, normally weren't able to Shift forward into their future. Only backward. I possessed the rare ability to Shift other people, namely Finn, into my own time because I was a chronogenetic mish mash. My father was born at the turn of the twentieth century. My mom gave birth to me at the turn of the twenty-third century. Apparently, that made me the temporal equivalent of double-sided sticky tape.

Finn squeezed me close to his side. He needed to be touching me for my quantum tendrils to latch on to him. As I took one final gaze over the streets of London, I couldn't tell if the dull, red haze in the distance was the sun coming up or another building burning down.


"AHH, A SHIFTER. Welcome to Jamaica, mon." A Rastafarian tossed a handful of dreads over his shoulder and held out his hand until he saw the state of my arm. "Is that the capuchin?" His tone changed from laid-back and friendly to business-like in an instant. "We need a quarantine procedure over here!"

I ignored the man and peered over his shoulder. We were in a hoverport, somewhere in Jamaica. I didn't bother checking my Com for details. I didn't care what year it was. Clearly it was some point after Shifters had come out in the open, but before the cure to capuchin fever had been discovered. All I cared about was stopping someone from making a blarking stupid decision.

Finn had never been on a reversion mission with me. He stood at my side, biting his nails, staring at my arm. I didn't need a quarantine. I needed to find the idiot who had caused this change.

And there he was.

A man in his mid-twenties fidgeted in the line to board the next hovercraft, destination Atlanta. I'd seen a picture of him before. Somewhere. And suddenly, a lesson from Contemporary Developments in Biology clicked in my head and I knew exactly who I was looking at. It was a young James Canavan, one of the most brilliant minds to ever work for the Centers for Disease Control. Over the last thirty-five years, he had single-handedly created vaccines for more than a dozen infectious diseases. Including capuchin fever.


Excerpted from Twist by Karen Akins. Copyright © 2015 Karen Akins. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Twist 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Bree Bennis should be living happily ever after now that she's saved her mother, found a way to fight back against ICE's plans to change the timeline to their advantage, and reunited with her boyfriend Finn from a different century. But it turns out being a time traveler is never easy. In the twenty-third century, ICE is still trying to alter the timeline by allowing non-shifters to time travel to points in their own pasts. Bree's reverter can undo the changes before the timeline is permanently altered but she can only work so fast. Now that she is no longer a chipped Shifter, she can literally see when her reality changes. Everything still feels controllable until Bree's Future Self stops her from fixing one key change to Bree's own life six months earlier. Losing the last six months of her life, Bree never travels to the twenty-first century to meet her boyfriend Finn. She never tangles with ICE. But she knows the timeline is still at risk and she still has to stop it. Now, Bree is stuck undercover with Wyck as her boyfriend. Sure he hasn't tried to kill her on this timeline but Bree still remembers him as Evil Wyck and she still doesn't want to pretend to date him. With only a minimal sense of what she has to do to stop ICE, Bree can't even take a moment to stew when Finn shows up in the twenty-third century dating another Shifter. As a time traveler, Bree should have time on her side. But as ICE's changes become more extreme, with more devastating personal consequences for her, Bree knows she's running out of time in Twist (2015) by Karen Akins. Twist is the sequel to Loop and the conclusion of Bree Bennis' story. Twist is a trippy, page-turning continuation of Bree's adventures. The story is filled with the catch-22 time travel scenarios readers will remember from book one. While this book has a contained story and recaps of key moments, it heavily references Loop and should not be read out of order. Akins expertly manipulates familiar time travel conventions and tropes to create a unique story filled with twists and turns. While the timeline keeps changing, Bree and Finn's relationship remains relatively constant as the emotional heart of this story. Snappy prose and Bree's witty first-person narration enhance this story and bring readers along for the sometimes bumpy ride across multiple reality shifts for Bree and the timeline. While the story has some nail-biting moments of suspense (and worry for this likable cast of characters), this book is a finale worthy of these characters. Twist is an immensely satisfying conclusion to an adventurous and fascinating sci-fi duology. Highly recommended for readers seeking a new time travel adventure. Possible Pairings: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst, The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Soulprint by Megan Miranda, Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Pivot Point by Kasie West, Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
JessicaCoffee More than 1 year ago
4.5 stars* "…if there was one thing I’d learned over the last six months, it’s that it takes a rare, rare person to willingly sacrifice the things he loves for the greater good." ~Bree Bennis ¿Diving back into the Loop world was fun with Ms. Akins’ great characters and amusing writing (I particularly love Bree’s derogatory words against people she isn’t fond of, like “crap-weasel”).  Everything is explained and set up well, and then… Bree finds herself in an awkward, inexplicable situation, and has to think fast. Not that she does the best job. But she *does* help herself figure it out (kind of), and that’s what carries you through the plot. (Confused? Good. Because I was.) New reality = not the same characters as before. It’s hard to imagine how disconcerting it would be to be coming and going in different time spans, how frustrating it would be for any sort of relationship at all. Bree says it well: "Our relationship is going through what you might call a challenging stage right now. And by 'right now,' I mean 'since the moment I met him'.  Like LOOP, TWIST made me laugh out loud quite a few times. And the twists… yep. There’s lots. I really enjoyed seeing more of Bree, Finn (of course) and his family, and though we don't get as much of Finn as I'd liked, it *was* nice getting to see a different side of Wyck after what went down in LOOP.  All in all, TWIST was a fun, mysterious second installment to LOOP, and I highly recommend checking it out. *I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Sailon More than 1 year ago
This is a particularly magnificent and dazzling mind twister. The name is apropo, Twist blew me away. Bree must track down the instant the time line started to change. The point shifter interference started creating the ripples that are destroying her world but by doing that she might forever loose her true love. Akins creates a highly complex, mind bending experience. Just when you thought you knew where this plot was heading you are totally taken by surprised. Don't get me wrong her twists totally work; they are just absolutely unexpected. I know the description sounds like a love triangle but that can't be further from the case. Yes, the changes made to her reality put her in a relationship with her enemy, Wyck, but her heart belongs to Finn.  What would you do to save the one you love? Bree is going to face that and much more... From the start this book will take you on a roller coaster of emotions while teasing you with possibilities.  Akins' imagination + masterful and vivid world building = one incredible story. I received this ARC copy of Twist from St. Martin's Griffin in exchange for a honest review.