This probably really is a four star book for me, except that I had very high expectations that were not met, and I think that soured it a little. That’s the problem with excellent buzz sometimes.
Things I liked: the blur between fantasy and science fiction. The book reads like a fantasy in many ways, but the ultimate explanations appear to have more of a scientific basis. It’s hand-wavey science, but still ultimately science fiction rather than magic juice. I thought Ethan and Mallory both dealing with difficult parenting situations was well done, especially how awkward those interactions could be. I particularly liked the scene where Mallory realizes how much she could emotionally manipulate her mother, but then chooses not to.
I also felt that some of the characters were very one dimensional. All of the Wylies except for Will were caricatures of greedy, malicious, not-very-nice people. Young Harry never felt like a real person to me.
There were a lot of loose ends left dangling, so I can only assume that this book was the first in a planned series.
There was a lot that I enjoyed but thinking about too hard just doesn’t make sense.
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
There is a strong implication that Mallory’s mother is Nora, and that it’s possible her father is Harry. How does the rest of the town not clue in on that? In the past hundred years how has no one found the barrel of water on the roof? Giving the water to Will at the end seemed a little forced, since Ephraim no longer believed the water was anything special. Watching someone bleed to death, my first reaction would not be to give them a glass of water. I thought Ephraim’s sudden change of mind about the water and stubborn refusal to believe otherwise seemed a bit forced as well.