Anna never thought the handsome and popular captain of the football team, Steve, would ever end up in her physics class. She just did not think he was so academically oriented. When she completely humiliates herself by running into him in the hall and accidentally leaving with his physics notebook and take-home midterm, she decides she’ll never impress him. Feeling guilty about preventing him from completing his assignment, she decides, unfortunately with no compunction whatsoever, that she should do it for him. Not only is Steve grateful for the assist, but he asks Anna to tutor him. Could life be more perfect?
Well, actually, yes. Anna’s life is more complicated than that of the average high school senior. After her father died in the war in Afghanistan, her mother nearly had a nervous breakdown. Anna does her best not to upset the delicate balance at home, keeping an eye on her mother as well as her video game-addicted younger brother, Michael. Most troubling of all, however, are the strange spots that are slowly growing on her arm, in the shape of the Pleiades. She might never have noticed them if her best friend Heather had not pointed them out. Anna plans to study astrophysics in college, but this is more than she can handle. Why have these spots developed? Is there any connection between them and the strange dark visitor that appears in her room at night? Anna desperately needs to confide in an adult, but fears sending her mother over the edge.
Meghan Riley’s first installment in this science fiction series depicts typical high school social life from the vantage of a studious, sensitive young woman who, arm rash aside, is a believable, realistic teenager. Anna, Heather and their peers indulge in gossip and the occasional suggestive jokes, but Anna consistently stays above the fray when her own personal dignity is at stake. Although she claims not to be a religious person and is skeptical about organized religion, Anna does resort to prayer when “smudging” her room does nothing to scare away the creepy, speechless man who is following her. Young adults will find this riveting cliffhanger hard to put down and will anxiously anticipate its sequel.
Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher living in Ridgewood, NJ.