Author: Sophie McKenzie
Release date: 6th July 2009
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Target audience: 12+
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Summary from Amazon:
Fourteen years ago, scientist William Fox implanted four babies with the Medusa gene - a gene for psychic abilities. But Fox died and the babies were hidden away for years. Now the children are teenagers - and unaware that their psychic powers are about to kick in. Cocky, charismatic Nico thinks his emerging telekinetic abilities will bring him money, power and the girl of his dreams. He's about to find out just how wrong he is...
The Set-Up is a real feel good, page-turning thriller. It is the first book in the Medusa Project series which will surely be just as high on action and drama.
Nico is the voice of the story. The brilliant opening reveals his character effortlessly and the setting for the story. He is fourteen, sitting in an assembly hall surrounded by other students and he is smitten with his best friend Ketty. From the off, we know Nico wants to be with Ketty and as the reader you are really cheering him on. The trouble with Nico is that he is an adorable dufus. He is the type of character that acts first, regrets later which of course makes him rather endearing if a little frustrating at times to read about.
It is not at all a spoiler to say that Nico has a gift. We find this out very early on. He is telekinetic and through the course of the novel learns why it is important to control it but also the consequences of using his gift. Of course, there is only one thing that Nico wants and that is to be with Ketty. The trouble is she has started going out with the rich, vain Billy Martin. The question Nico asks himself is: what will impress Ketty? He thinks the answer is money and so the story continues with Nico making some hilarious and rather daft choices in an attempt to impress her.
The plot of the novel is every part the thriller with the humour of Nico’s voice thrown in for great entertainment. There is a constant flow of action and consequence. There are kidnappings, helicopter rides and a big show down where the teens have to take on the all powerful adults.
There are of course some deeper questions which filter through the story about our right to privacy, about the ethics of scientific research and about the nature of choices. They are not explicit and they never interfere with the telling of Nico’s story but they are most certainly there below the surface.
I think The Set-Up will have a wide cross-gender appeal. Boys will enjoy the action and battle sequences. Girls will enjoy the love story and the highs and lows of teenage hormones and difficult parental relationships. At the heart of the book is a fun concept: a group of genetically-modified teens discover they have a super power. I’m excited to see how the team dynamics develop over the course of the series. I highly recommend this fun, page-turning read to anyone who is looking for an escapist series.
Thank you to the lovely Catherine at Simon and Schuster for giving me this book to review after my writing teacher recommended it.