Seventh-grader Mitchell Brant and three of his classmates inexplicably wake up at the back edge of a softball field to the sounds of a game, the cheering of the crowd. None of them remembers coming here. And as they soon learn, “here” is like no place they’ve ever seen. Cars resemble antiques from the 1950s. There are no cell phones, no PCs. Even the spelling of words is slightly off.
A compulsive liar, constantly telling fantastic stories to garner attention and approval, Mitchell can only wish this were just one more of his tall tales. But it isn’t. It’s all too real. Together, as they confront unexpected and life-threatening dangers, Mitchell and his friends must overcome their bickering and insecurities to learn what happened, where they are, and how to get back home.
The answers can be found only in the mysterious little girl with the blue, hypnotic eyes. The one they had each dreamed of three nights in a row before arriving here. She is their only hope. And, as they eventually discover, they are her only hope.
And time is running out.
The Eye-Dancers, is a story of friendship that has a great nostalgic vibe, bearing similarities in feeling to such coming of age stories like Stephen King’s The Body (the film being titled Stand By Me), mixed in with a classic sci-fi, à la The Twilight Zone. Both of which infuse the prose with their respective flavours and make this story extremely enjoyable to read.
There are plenty of real world YA issues covered here, from self-doubt to broken families, all without getting too heavy. It’s the mixture of the real life and fantastical, and the way Fedison balances it, that is a real strength for this book. The mystery itself is not as clear-cut or clichéd as adult readers long familiar with the genre may guess at when reading the blurb, which is a relief and not at all surprising, considering the author’s blog posts, the link of which you will find at the bottom of this post.
The characters are fleshed out well and the story progresses at a good pace. There is plenty going on for each of the boys as they face their own challenging dilemmas in their lives and in their own internal struggles, as they learn what they are capable of and what is the right thing to do. Each character feels unique and different, yet they compliment each other nicely, it’s a good balance of voices.
The only thing that bothered my slightly were the children’s arguments, they did get a bit wearying towards the end of the book, however kids are kids and are prone to be irritating so I can’t really be over critical for that reason. Especially as the ending has real heart, it was a fitting conclusion to a story I thoroughly enjoyed reading and raises anticipation for reading the next book.
It’s clear that Fedison has a real enthusiasm for science, it really shows through in the writing and it will be enough to get the YA audience intrigued in the science fact behind the science fiction. Adults will be able to indulge in the feeling of those pioneering shows that introduced young minds to such concepts, the reminiscence of which is always most welcome. Although this is a light read, it is not afraid to leave the reader to speculate on some pretty big questions.
Check out the author’s blog The Eye-Dancers as well for quality blog posts and information to the recently released sequel The Singularity Wheel.