Malice, by Pintip Dunn, for Timeslip Tuesday

Malice, by Pintip Dunn (Entangled Teen, February 2020), is an unusual time slip story.  Instead of bodies travelling through time, in this case only a person's consciousness can, and only into the mind of their own past or future self.  It's a sci-fi sort of time travel, though without much hard science backing it up.

Alice knows nothing of this time travel at first.  Her life is kind of ordinary (high school, friends, photography), though harder than some, because her mother abandoned the family, leaving Alice to be the one to look after her genius older brother, Archie.  Her father seems only interested in Archie's academic successes, and neglects the day to day parenting, leaving it on Alice's shoulders. 

But then she is invaded by a mysterious voice, that clamps her mind in agony in order to do something she'd never dream of doing ordinarily--go up to one of the most popular, smartest, best looking boys at school, a Thai kid named Bandit, and tell him she loves him.  This is just the first challenge.  They don't get easier.

 In fact, they become heartbreakinlyg horrible, when Alice learns the whole point of the voice's plan is to use Alice to kill someone.  A boy she knows is going to unleash a virus that wipes out much of humanity, and leaves the rest struggling to survive.  She's told she has to kill him, but must figure out who he is herself.....

The voice in her head is her older self, ten years from now.  Alice believes this, and when she is taken into the future, she sees the devastation the virus has wrought.  But she's not given the full picture of what's happening, and struggles to choose the best path--best for the future, and best for her own heart.

It's an exciting page turner, and trying to figure out who the virus maker is makes for gripping reading!  Alice is believably tormented by her impossible mission, and is a believable character, with a sweet, though fraught, blossoming love story (with Bandit; it was lots of fun watching their relationship develop!).

The only thing that kept me from really loving it was that torward the end there was a rush of new information, that made me feel like the plot could have been tricksier, with the reader getting to see a more fully realized antagonist...The read, and Alice, see only a little bit of the larger chess game that's playing out, and it was disappointing not have been made aware of it earlier.  On the other hand, it would make re-reading it, which I might well do at some point, more interesting....)

As it is, the bulk of the tension comes from future Alice, growing increasingly desperate to figure out what her past self needs to do to stop the virus.  Thirty jumps is all that are possible before mental breakdown, and future Alice is running out of chances....This meddling in the past rasies all sorts of lovely ethical grey areas, that give much good food for thought!

short answer--I enjoyed it lots, though it wasn't quite a five star read for me.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very unique story concept. Thanks for your review.


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