The Eye-Dancers – Michael S. Fedison

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.

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28 Replies to “The Eye-Dancers – Michael S. Fedison”

  1. I’ve read this a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also did some beta reading for The Singularity Wheel, which was a real buzz to be able to read before its publication. Mike’s blog never fails to satisfy either.

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    1. I have yet to get my hands on The Singularity wheel, cash is not my friend of late but it’s good to have books that I know will be quality reads. What are your thoughts on the sequel.

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      1. It was interesting to see the boys and Monica so much older. Of course this meant the dangers were a lot more…well, dangerous. Especially the journey to reach Monica. If you think Monica had it bad in the first book, you ain’t seen nothing until you read The Singularity Wheel 😀

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  2. This reminds me to buy this book. I”ve been wanting to since forever.. I’d bought the books of 2 bloggers, Nicholas Conley and Serina David. Problem is, I’ve forgotten my password for Amazon. I now use my brother;s account.

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    1. There is something to be said for reading an author’s blog before picking up their books. I’ve enjoyed most of what I have read from my fellow bloggers, mainly because I could judge of I liked the book before purchasing or if I’m lucky getting ARC. The Eye-Dancers is well worth the wait.

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    1. I have been a follower of Mike’s for a few years and back when I had money I picked it up on Amazon, supporting the blogger community as I try and do. Since I have been over here, I have had a couple of ebooks sent my way. Other than that I work my way through what I brought with me. Soon I will be seeing if I can borrow from the family over here and going to the couple of quality bookshops I have seen that take my fancy.

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  3. I have never really been able to embrace the fashion that is YA writing. Can you say a bit more about why you think adults can get a lot from reading this genre?

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    1. I know what you mean the National Book store over here is focussed more on YA and fiction that appeals to the younger audiences like John Green and others of that ilk, which is good for the younger readers but I have found other bookshops more to my taste. Adults will appreciate it for the nostalgia value, the big nods to the Twilight Zone and such, those simpler days and emotions we experienced as kids. The idea of escapism and life being simpler is a big appeal as well and the accessibility to put down and pick up without overly convoluted plotting is also a plus. I think the appeal of the TV show Stranger Things would be the benchmark for why adults like it.

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      1. All good reasons to give it a try, so perhaps I will dip my toe in with this title. It’s funny because another friend was recently raving about Stranger Things on TV, so perhaps the universe is nudging me in that direction too!

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        1. Stranger things is a decent watch, way overhyped but worth the time. I would say this could be a theme for you, then of course Twin Peaks is always worth a (re) watch at anytime!

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          1. I have not seen TP for about 100 years so it would be interesting to give it another go after all this time. I certainly remember how amazing and ground-breaking it seemed when first released.

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  4. I can remember when YA wasn’t even around, and a good young adult reader had to step up to the adult classics, and learn what adult life was about. I’m torn between wondering if that was a better preparation for adult life, and wondering if the burgeoning field of young adult classics in their own right now is. On the one hand, the often scifi- and fantasy-based books like the one you’re reviewing today stimulate the imagination, while showcasing conflicts and problems (and solutions) that teens might be familiar with. On the other, I’d like to think that such classics as “To Kill a Mockingbird” (which in its own way could be classified as YA), “From Here to Eternity,” “The Scarlet Letter,” “Paradise Lost,” “Moll Flanders,” “Frankenstein,” and a host of others could still be approached by young readers with a sense of curiosity and wonder. Many of these books, of course, are no longer considered “suitable” for young readers because of a Mrs. Grundy sense of morality that prevails in the educational system, which is weird, considering that most of our parents, at least on this continent, read these things in school when they were YAs, and it was their job to think like young ADULTS, which the emphasis on the second word. So, I don’t know. The jury is still out for me on the issue. In the meantime, I myself as you know do often read and enjoy what I consider worthwhile YA novels, and will probably continue to do so. Thanks for your review on this one–it looks like a goodie!

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    1. I think a mix of both modern YA and making the jump to classics is the best way. It is interesting how your eduction system seems more focused,these days, on protecting children from the big ideas of the classics than giving them a voice for discussion, that may explain why the college campuses over your way are full of kids who are offended by any opinions that differ from their own.

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      1. I hadn’t thought of that, but yes, maybe. There’s a certain amount of indulgence now in secondary schools that has both its good and bad sides. And when you get to college, you need to shed self-indulgent ways of thinking of being in order to interact with a wider world and others who may be more different from you than those you’ve encountered before. It follows suit, too, that our political climate is full of different sides who each “preach [only] to the choir” on their own side, and don’t seem to be able to hold a dialogue with the opposite side. Yes, probably all of a piece.

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        1. I watch the unfolding political scenes in America with great interest, the idea of discourse seems to be totally down the pan, the same as in Britain. I do think these kids at colleges will be in for a surprise when they get into the real world.

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    1. Even if not a YA fan, Mike’s writing is still a great read, if it wasn’t for his blog, I wouldn’t have thought to rediscover those old Twilight Zone episodes or (perhaps) have appreciated the insights into life that make up the book so enjoyable.

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  5. Thanks so much for the great review! It is much appreciated, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. Also–just say the word, and I’ll be more than happy to send you the file for The Singularity Wheel!:)

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    1. I will certainly take you up on that offer sir. I am only 100 pages off the book I am currently reading so please feel free to send it over whenever and I will commence reading by the end of the week, if not before. Thank you for your kind offer, I really enjoyed this book and am already curious to know how the characters have come on since the end of The Eye Dancers.

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