Gemma is the quintessential loner. She lives with her emotionally distant grandparents, and spends all of her time at school completely alone. Unlike most teenaged girls, whose emotions are always so close to the surface, Gemma can't feel anything.
Until February 8th of her senior year. That's the day she starts feeling emotions, as well as having dreams. Her dreams are horrible, too: nightmares of being chased through the woods, gaunt creatures with glowing yellow eyes right behind her. Then a man with a scar appears, radiating evil. He commands the creatures to finish Gemma off, and they do.
Night after night, it's the same nightmare.
One day, two new kids move to Gemma's school. Aislin is a beautiful blonde girl, who's surprisingly nice to Gemma, considering how horribly most cheerleader-types treat her. Also new to school is Aislin's brother, Alex. Something about Alex makes Gemma feel electric shocks up and down her skin. It's not just Alex's handsomeness, his bright green eyes or perfectly tousled hair. She feels actual electric sparks.
Worse yet, the Astronomy teacher assigns Alex and Aislin to Gemma's solitary table in the back of class, and Alex seems filled with an irrational loathing of Gemma.
As it turns out, Aislan and Alex are not your typical high school students. They're members of an Order called Keepers, who ostensibly protect the world from evil creatures. The yellow-eyed, blood-chilling creatures are real, too. They're called Death Walkers, and they are as unpleasant in real life as in Gemma's dream.
Also, Aislan and Alex aren't in Gemma's school by coincidence. They are there to watch over Gemma. For years, Gemma has felt like the least-important person on Earth. When she learns the truth, she discovers that she is unique, and extremely important indeed. Furthermore, there are a lot of people--and non-people--who would love to see her killed.
This is the set up for Jessica Sorensen's excellent novel, "The Fallen Star." We join the story knowing as little as Gemma does, and learn as we go along. There's no time for a lengthy explanation of "how things are." Gemma, Aislin, and Alex find themselves in danger during a school field trip, and that's when Gemma's exposure to "how things are" begins. From that cold bus in the Colorado mountains, one hell of a journey begins.
I like the world Ms Sorensen has created. She takes creatures we've all read about--vampires, for example--and creates a different mythology around them. It's a nice change.
Also, I like the relationship between Alex and Gemma. There are definite sparks there--quite literally, in Gemma's case--but they distrust each other and fight most of the time. Except, of course, when they're kissing.
I also like Ms Sorensen's pacing. Gemma is bounced from one peril to another, but there is always a respite, a few minutes when she can catch her breath, learn a bit more about "how things are," and convince herself that maybe she's safe. Then, all too soon, she's running for her life again.
This is book one of the series, and the ending is such that I'm glad I have book two ready to start. I'm hoping it is as good as "The Fallen Star."
Either way, this is a brilliant start to a promising series.