Sam has an unusual talent- she can become invisible. The problem is she can’t control it, and it seems to be getting worse. When a boy from her class sees her disappear, he tells her that she has Rippler’s Syndome, a genetic condition that his sister has spent years studying. Now everyone who has done research into Rippler’s is being hunted down and killed. To make matters worse, Sam thinks she might be falling for the only boy who knows her secret- but he has a few secrets of his own.
I was a little skeptical about the premise of this book, fearing that it would be a little too derivative of The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’m happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The plot gets interesting straight away, introducing the main characters in a way that’s both natural (in as much as being able to disappear is ever natural) and gripping. Swanson does an excellent job with exposition, dropping tidbits here and there to give the reader enough information with still enticing them to read more.
Some of the best parts of the book are the diary entries/case notes interspersed between the chapters. Their content is disturbing, but they encourage an atmosphere of foreboding and suspense about the villains even before they appear in person. The reader also gains an understanding of their motives and background, which gives the conflict context. Here also, Swanson keeps an element of mystery that pulls you through the pages.
It was fairly easy to get invested in the characters in this book. Sam had some good character development, and her romantic interest in Will was genuine without becoming her reason for being. It was clear that she had her own goals and feelings, and she pursued them. Will’s sister Mickie was also a strong female character, and although she’s volatile and bitchy, it’s clear that her heart is in the right place. Sam’s parents, unfortunately, faded into the background, particularly her father. This wouldn’t be too big a deal except that we don’t get a sense of Sam’s attachment to them, giving some of her later dilemmas less emotional weight.
Rippler is the first book in Swanson’s Ripple Series. The second book, Chameleon, is also available.
Title: Rippler (Book One in the Ripple Series)
Author: Cidney Swanson
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication: Williams Press September 2nd, 2011
Price: $10.99 (paperback); $2.99 (e-book, all formats)
Author’s Website: http://cidneyswanson.blogspot.com/