Saturday, February 15, 2014

Quicksilver (book) by R.J. Anderson

Quicksilver is YA science fiction, the second book in a series. I have written about the first, Ultraviolet.

This review contains spoilers. You've been warned.


The events of Ultraviolet put Tori too much in the public eye, and one man in particular, Deckard, seems determined to uncover all her secrets. When he starts asking about Tori's unusual genetic results, Tori's parents decide it's time to pack up and leave.

They move to a new place, start a new life, and take new names. Tori, now Niki, gets a job at a supermarket and does her best not to attract attention. Events prompt her to tell Milo, one of her coworkers, a little about her past. Then Sebastian reappears, and Milo finds out more than Tori ever intended for him to know.

Unfortunately, Tori has bigger problems, in the form of Deckard, who's obsessively trying to track her down, and Mathis, who at any second might kidnap her the same way he did before, this time for good.


I put this on my TBR list after learning that its heroine was explicitly stated to be asexual. It was recommended to me again after I wrote in a previous review that I was looking for books with asexual romance in them. The recommendation came with a warning that it would be a good idea to read Anderson's Ultraviolet first. Now that I've read both books, I can say that I agree with this. Not only does Quicksilver contain many spoilers for events in Ultraviolet, a lot of it would probably confuse those who hadn't read Ultraviolet first.

In several ways, I consider this book to be better than the first. It felt smoother overall, although I wish the action had been spread out a little more. The story was fairly slow-paced until the end, when, bam, Tori's biggest enemies were dealt with in a flurry of activity.

As far as protagonists went, I liked Tori better than Alison. Although Tori viewed her people skills as artificial, I don't think she gave herself enough credit. She worried about others, perhaps even more than she worried about herself. She empathized with people and tried to take their feelings into account. Heck, she even managed to forgive Sebastian for doing things that few would have blamed her for being angry about. If anything, she forgave others and put others' needs before her own almost too much.

The amount of empathy Tori had for Alison bugged me, mostly because it made me remember how little empathy Alison had for anybody, much less Tori, in the first book. Granted, there was a lot Alison didn't know about Tori until the end of Ultraviolet, but it wasn't just Tori – Alison rarely thought about or asked about anybody but herself. Some readers may be happy to learn that Alison and Sebastian make a reappearance in Quicksilver, but I found that I was not particularly excited to see either of them again. I especially wasn't fond of another round of Alison and Sebastian's relationship angst. Their romance did not appeal to me any more in this book than it did in the first.

Tori and Milo worked better for me. For one thing, they didn't start off with lots of points against them: they were closer to being the same age than Sebastian and Alison, and there wasn't a huge power difference between them. Both of them were worried about being honest with their parents. Milo, for example, wanted to become a gym teacher but knew that everyone in his family expected him to become a doctor. As far as Milo knew, Tori's secret was that she wanted to visit her local makerspace and create the amazing things she'd so far only been able to dream about, while her parents wanted her to wait until college so that her engineering skills hopefully wouldn't stand out quite so much.

Tori was actually hiding a bit more than that. Neither her parents nor Milo knew that she was actually an alien, and that she lived in fear of being rejected by those she loved if the truth came out.

I liked that the book addressed, at least a little, the fear that Tori's parents' “Our Kind of People” versus “Those People” mentality inspired in her. If Tori's parents had trouble accepting that she had a Korean-Canadian boyfriend, what would they think once they learned that she wasn't even human? They had gone through so much, given up so much, just to keep her safe. Would this one last bit of information be too much for them and cause them to finally reject her too? I could understand and sympathize with those kinds of fears, even as I wished for Tori to tell someone in her life the full truth about herself.

Anyway, back to Milo. Milo was a good guy. He didn't really have to get involved with Tori in the first place. In fact, staying close to her meant putting himself, and possibly his family, in danger. He was attracted to Tori, but he didn't storm off when she confessed to him that she was asexual. When they became closer, he didn't try to force their relationship into becoming something more sexual. There was none of that “well, maybe you just haven't been with the right guy (i.e. me).” He kept his hands to himself, and both Tori and I appreciated that. My biggest complaint about him was that he was kind of boringly perfect and became less and less interesting as the book progressed.

Then came the end of the book, when Tori decided to kiss Milo. I wasn't entirely comfortable with this. It wasn't so much the kiss itself as when the kiss happened. Having it happen at the end of this book gave the characters no time to explore what that meant and what sorts of expectations they had for their relationship. Instead of making me feel warm and fuzzy, that kiss made me worry that Tori was promising more than she was willing to give and that they'd both end up hurt.

All in all, Quicksilver probably isn't something I'll ever reread, but I did like it. If Anderson ever writes a third book in this series, I plan to read it.

  • The Rules (book) by Stacey Kade - More YA sci-fi and aliens. Those who liked Milo's efforts not to push Tori into the kind of relationship she said she wasn't interested in may enjoy the romance in this book. I've written about this book.
  • Mindtouch (e-book) by M.C.A. Hogarth - Those who, like me, were drawn to Quicksilver because of its asexual protagonist may want to give this book, and its sequel, a try. Mindtouch stars an asexual centauroid alien and a humanoid alien who, due to his strong telepathic abilities, prefers not to be touched. Although the story is more a coming of age tale than a romance, there's still a lot here that romance fans will likely recognize and enjoy. I've written about both Mindtouch and Mindline.
  • Cinder (book) by Marissa Meyer - Another YA science fiction book featuring romance and a heroine who's a mechanic. Other than that, I suppose it's not much like Quicksilver. Still, if those aspects of Quicksilver appealed to you, you might check this one out. I've written about this book.

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