by Kelley Armstrong
Maya's town is a little different than most. Created by a scientific research organization to house its employees and their families while staying away from the corporate spies that want to steal their secrets, the little town isn't even located on most maps. The children have grown up learning in a small school and have been trained how to handle strangers who ask too many questions.
But now a new stranger has come to town and she's asking questions that pique Maya's curiosity. Why do the children have annual physicals conducted by the scientists every year when they "tour" the research facility on school field trips? Why do animals seem to flock to Maya and heal more quickly under her care? Why was she abandoned at the hospital as a child? What does her paw-print birthmark mean? How could the captain of the swim team die in the middle of a lake she'd swum in practically since birth? And what does the hot new guy want from her?
As Maya and her best friend, Daniel, search for answers, it may be that searching could be the worst mistake of her life.
Final thoughts: This is not a novel; this is the first third of a novel. This is only the exposition of a novel. Almost everything in this book is a set-up for the next two in the trilogy. The cliffhanger isn't even really a cliffhanger as much as it is a "turn the page to find out" only to find out there's nothing on the next page. It's like buying a book to find the printer messed up. There's some interesting storyline stuff going on here, but it's obscured by the fact that there isn't much plot. The supernatural element may be great... once we can get to it.
And I'm a little disturbed by the references to Native culture. I've checked Armstrong's bio and there is nothing to suggest that she has any Native history, but Maya is supposed to be something (though she was abandoned and adopted, so no one knows what she is), her adoptive mother is Navajo, and there are references to tribes, laws, and other stories throughout the book. Having followed Debbie Reese's blog for a few years now, I'm wary about recommending books that will indulge stereotypes like skin color, religion, tribal histories, etc... In her "Mea-Culpa" page on her website that is there to discuss errors and plot holes, Armstrong mentions about another book of hers that she doesn't want to "appropriate anyone's faith for my fiction." However, I'm concerned that she's appropriating a culture here. Hesitant to recommend this one.