Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.
(As a complete side note: every time I try to type Quicksilver, I have to stop because I will try to type Ultraviolet instead. Hopefully by the end of this review, I will be over this.)
Quicksilver is the sequel to Anderson’s 2011 book, Ultraviolet. I meant to re-read Ultraviolet before I read Quicksilver but then I forgot. This wasn’t a huge problem–I actually would say that Quicksilver could be read first, except that it is hugely spoilery for Ultraviolet. So in fact, SPOILERS FOR ULTRAVIOLET AHEAD.
Quicksilver is narrated by Tori Beauregard, Alison’s archrival and nemesis in the first book. Their narration is very different, for a number of reasons. First, Alison has a special way of viewing the world which Tori doesn’t share. Second, they’re just very different people. Third, Alison’s whole conflict is based on her not being able to trust herself, while for Tori the conflict is based on the secrets she has to keep. It’s worth noting, though, that both have trouble figuring out who to trust.
Tori has several secrets and for quite a bit of the book they aren’t spelled out. One of them would be obvious to anyone who has also read Ultraviolet–that Tori is an alien. The other one is not so obvious necessarily, although it’s a little hard for me to say, because I was spoiled for it already. I think that this secret works whether the reader already knows it or not, although I’m trying to avoid spoiling it for people who haven’t already read the book.
I will say, though, that I was very impressed by the way Anderson handled this secret. It’s worth noting that she has now taken on two main characters who are not quite neurotypical and, as far as I can tell* has written characters who are informed by their difference but not defined by it. It’s also worth noting that, not only do neither Alison nor Tori receive a magical cure, the idea that a ‘cure’ would be desirable is not even mentioned.
And I really liked Tori. I liked the way she’s earnest, the way she tries. She keeps fighting, even when her back is to the wall, but she’s very far from humorless or emotionless. I loved her relationship with Milo–and Milo! is awesome! His family is Korean, but again, this is treated as a real thing without being a defining characteristic. He’s also just Milo.
Incidentally, I loved the fact that Tori works in a grocery store–I can’t remember the last time I saw a teen character with a job that was just a teen job, not a quirky part of their personality. (Record stores and coffee shops, I’m looking at you.)
In fact, I’ll just say it: I loved this book. I really enjoyed Ultraviolet, but Quicksilver is, in my opinion, a step up and a truly impressive book that is clever, witty, and fast-paced, without sacrificing heart or character development. If I had a complaint, it would be that I wanted a little more from Tori’s parents because the change there seemed a bit abrupt. But honestly, that’s a minor thing and I only thought of it just now. So, yay!
* I am privileged in this area, so trying to be sensitive here; also, not sure if Tori actually is not neurotypical? Or how best to describe either girl at all? What I am trying to get at is that both of them have a characteristic which could very easily have been mishandled and which I–again, privileged in this area–found refreshingly well-done.
Book source: public library
Book information: Carolrhoda Books, 2013; YA science fiction