The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Hearing other’s thoughts isn’t as fun as you might think. When Hannah Armstrong becomes Becca King and moves to an island where she and her mom hope Becca’s murderous stepfather won’t find her, Becca makes friends and starts to fall in love just as a boy suspiciously falls in the woods and ends up in a coma.
Becca King hears others’ thoughts like whispers in her head. One of the examples of creative genius in this story comes from a unit called the AUD box. Built specifically to address the condition known only to Becca’s mom and stepdad, the box blasts static to help Becca focus on what people are saying. She didn’t have it on when her stepdad thought something that proved he was behind his business partner’s murder.
This concept feels fresh, and I credit Elizabeth George with this. Mindreading has been used in young adult fiction, but something about the way George uses it really gives breath to the characters of Whidbey Island and turns them into real people. By the time I finished reading, I was emotionally attached to almost every character. The book is rich in character motivation and incorrect but logical assumptions. George uses the mindreading ability to show how often what people say contradicts what they are really thinking.
All praise aside, please do not read this for the mystery involved. The revelation of who is responsible for Derric’s fall in the woods is used only to make a broader point about our assumptions as human beings. While I understand the lesson here, I don’t know if many teenagers or adults should read this expecting mystery with a shocking ending. Read this for the characters and a hard look at humanity. I don’t think you will be disappointed when you turn the last page.
There is, of course, a cliffhanger ending. This is the first book in what is being billed as a “cycle,” so such an ending is all but mandatory, and it certainly takes nothing away from the rest of the book.
I spent nearly a month with this book and found myself actually caring about what happened to the characters contained within. Character change and positive development are also strong. I recommend The Edge of Nowhere to teens looking for a comfortable and engrossing escape from the real world and to adults who could always use the same thing.
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