Thanks to Harper Teen and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this. I didn’t get to it until the day before my e-copy would expire, but it was a read that I was able to pick up and get right into.
I’m not sure exactly what to think about the book. It was a very unique story. I love how the title, as well as the titles of many of the chapters, were the names of songs I remember from the 80’s. It definitely had me reading to the very end to try to find out exactly what was the real story about what was going on. And while I feel that it ended in a perfectly explained way, there was one or two things I think would have been good to maybe have in the story a bit more than they were.
The main character is Skylar. She lives in the town of Gardnerville. Gardnerville is a magical place. People don’t get sick, if you have cancer, or are dying from something else, you can go there, and you will be healed. Not only healed, but people live really long lives, like hundreds of years. But there is a down side. The kids there have powers of some sort. And every four years, the powers can get extremely strong, and there will be some kind of horrible accident. When these things happen, depending how severe they are, the person, a teen usually, is sent to the Reformatory for a given amount of time. In the Reformatory, it is as if they forget everything there. If they are ever allowed out, they come home broken, quiet, not quite the same person they were before. Four years before the story begins, Skylar’s sister Piper led a bunch of kids onto the train track bridge. Most were able to jump to safety before being hit by the train. And Skylar doesn’t remember much after what seemed like the train was going to hit Piper. But she knows that Piper is now in the Reformatory.
Now Skylar wants only to forget. But some people are trying to get her to remember, to figure out a way to stop things that are happening. Elton, Piper’s boyfriend, has created drugs that help people. forget, or other things that are supposed to make the town safer. He uses Skylar’s power, which is to be able to read people’s secrets from their minds, to find out who might be a danger to others, and then they are put in the Reformatory. But some people want him to stop. A boy named Foote has come back in to town on the train at the beginning of the story. That is unusual because the rule is that once you leave town, you can’t come back. You will go out into the rest of the world, and die from whatever was killing you before. Skylar and Foote seem to be drawn to each other, even through their pushing each other away.
Skylar wants only to get to Piper, and find out what she isn’t remembering, as well as help Piper with what was their original plan, to take the Reformatory down so that no one ever has to go there again. But along the way Skylar learns so many things aren’t what they seem, that the things she thought she remembered, may not be true, or the way she remembered them. A lot of twists and turns along the way.
I kind of guessed what was going on with Piper, although it was definitely not exactly the way I pictured it. I feel like the rats that were in the town weren’t really explained enough, or didn’t really have as much of a part in the whole story as they should have, for what they ended up being a part of in the end. Really a twisty, creative story. A town I don’t think I’d want to go to. Not even to live a longer life.