Midwest Book Review of Opaque

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Opaque
Calix Leigh-Reign
Cayelle Publishing LLC/Surge
9780997923988 (paperback), $14.99
9781684197392 (ebook), $ 3.99

AdamAdam is a troubled young adult who hates the world and holds the latent power to change it: an ability which awakens with deadly consequences when he reaches the age of sixteen.

But Opaque is far more than the story of this angst-ridden teen’s coming of age. It embraces mutants, Russian involvements, programmed hearts and minds, and purposes far greater than one individual’s quest or vision, using language that is complex and often startling, evident from its very first paragraph.

Visceral, angry, and hard-hitting in its descriptions, readers should expect nothing less of Opaque than an emotional roller coaster ride that begins with a bang and drives forcefully through a teen’s perspective of his world: “Society molds our emotions to be absent compassion for our fellow man, to judge without mercy, to worship currency and empty our minds of rational thought. But one must think in order to perform the murderous tasks set before us. A vote of guilty for instance. I rebel only to relent. The daily realizations frustrate me and my once-godly thoughts disembark their positive spiritual flight. I merely allow them to return to their comfort zone. I could literally kill every living creature and feel the same nothing I already feel.”

But this is only the opening salvo in the war: there’s a mother’s journal, sealed with a blood line that only family DNA can decode; there’s sexual and terrifying connections between Adam and the women around him (“Under normal circumstances, I likely would’ve gotten a boner but this woman terrifies me. I like her. I like her a lot. “I sense that you are a predator who has thought of doing many horrible things. Your unnatural feelings for your mother fuel your predatory side.” She’s speaking very low and through her perfect teeth, so no one else can hear. She pins me to the wall with her energy, and stares directly into my eyes. “You have no times to hurt my daughter. All descendants can become predatory if they so choose.” Her LR flashes brightly. “If we can turn it on, we can turn it off. Find your off-switch or it will be found for you.”), and there’s a gritty immediacy to his evolutionary process that will leave readers not just on the edges of their seats, but gasping for air.

No light read and no casual coming-of-age story, Opaque is laden with angst, psychological power, and is a tale of dysfunction in a world where supernatural abilities can thwart mental illness, where a mysterious Afro-Russian girl who holds the power to divert Adam from the apocalypse he’s preparing for the future.

Under Calix Leigh-Reign’s hand, a different kind of revolution is taking place. It’s in the very cells of her characters, in the changed ways they interact with each other and the world, and in the blossoming power that give them new choices: “I feel her. Differently. I feel the energy inside of her cells and they’re calling out to me. Teleportation, increased speed, portal creation and interface. I wonder if she knows. I’m sure she does. But how do I know?”

As Opaque winds its way up to a crescendo of passion and angst, it carries readers on a roller coaster of emotion and change that dives right down into cellular layers of choice and struggles for survival. Regeneration, new awakenings, biokenretic energy and questions of immortality and immorality all blend into a heady mixture that considers how monsters are made and battled.

Suffice it to say that sci-fi readers from mature teens to adults who seek complex story lines and plots that steep their characters with awakening powers and new decision-making processes will find Opaque a powerful force. Complex, driven by clashes between darkness and light, and seriously overwhelming, it’s a tense page-turner that does more than present a teen’s world. It pulls the reader in to an evolutionary process that is far more than one of transition points, but embraces moral and ethical conundrums.

Review courtesy of Diane Donovan of Midwest Book Review and Donovan Literary Services

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