The second in Jennifer Ellis’s mind-boggling Derivatives of Displacement series is a worthy successor to the first.
Having discovered that the strange stones take them to the future… and that multiple futures exist, Abbey, her twin Caleb, older brother Simon and friend Mark (probably with Asperger’s, and the one I find myself most at home with!) are beset with the problems that spilled over from the last book. Strange people who appear to threaten their existence, or at least their future existence; hints and messages from people who may, or may not have their best interests at heart, and in Mark’s case, a search for the missing maps. Mark is a mapaholic. Good man. But their world is topsy-turvy in the present, since their mother has been ousted from her hard-won role as mayor, all the effort she’s put into conserving the natural environment (one of which houses the stones), is being undone, and she appears to be tired and ill.
This is a very complex story that runs at a furious pace. Abbey is brilliant, way ahead of her school years, and Caleb and Simon are no slouches either. Since most of the narrative is seen through Mark or Abbey’s eyes, it can feel quite strange at times. I realised early on that I was all at sea with the various characters, since it is nearly two years since I read A Pair of Docks, and I was enormously grateful for Mark’s narrative, especially since he has a way of failing to remember people’s names, but labelling them as the bad man, the very very bad man, the nasty woman and the extremely bad men. That was the perfect description for me! There are puzzles galore for anyone that likes solving spatial puzzles, word puzzles, codes and diagrams.
I have to say that the first half of my kindle copy contained some jumps in formatting that could do with fixing, since we switched to wholly different situations in run-on paragraphs in some extremely long chapters. That did not help me grasp what was going on! The second half was formatted perfectly, and with the addition of the maps so important to Mark, which gave the reader plenty of extra help to visualise the multi-dimensional plot. Despite my occasional bemusement, the story is wholly compelling, and I was extremely frustrated when my kindle ran out of juice when I was nearing the end.
But it is a cliff-hanger. And you know how much I hate cliff-hangers.
Good thing I have an advance copy of the third in the series: A Grave Tree, which I received as part of the book blast/tour last autumn, before realising I’d not read the second. On no account should you try to read them out of order. Book 4 is scheduled for summer 2016.
It’s a brilliant series, and very mind-bending. Read it!