By: Jim and Stephanie Kroepfl
Publication Date: September 2019
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 26, 2019
As a fan of Teen Fiction, like The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games, I learned long ago that I love living in a world of YA sci-fi/fantasy novels that “blow up” to become some of the greatest movies of our time. Hence, when I received this particular masterpiece, I was once again exhilarated to dive right in. (It’s also a blessing for a YA fan to know ahead of time that you will not have to listen to vampires and their tales of woe.)
Right off the bat, we meet Orfyn, who is one heck of a street painter. This is a teen sitting in one of the many alleys of Brooklyn and “decorating” a building with his version of The Last Supper. What does that mean? Well, Judah has a black eye, robes have been exchanged for N.Y. Rangers’ uniforms, and that blessed ‘cup of Christ’ is now the brilliant silver NHL championship trophy, the Stanley Cup. This is not the first painting of Orfyn’s to hit Brooklyn, and he expects—with the help of a girl who stumbles upon him while at work—to receive notice for his art. Unfortunately for him, a slight mistake made by the girl may turn that ‘notice’ into total disaster.
Orfyn is not only an orphan, he’s also a highly gifted teenager, which is what this tale focuses on. There are a total of seven teens who are on the path to becoming Nobels. This means they will be the ‘hosts’ who will receive implants of genius minds, referred to as their Mentors. You see, scientists have found a way to accelerate human progress using an evolved form of living known as “Merged Consciousness.” Simply put, the minds of dying geniuses will be merged/placed into the minds and bodies of these particular teens, bringing about a path to immortality. But, of course, as so often happens in the world of science, they neglect to ponder the question: “Just because something can be done, should it be?”
There is such a thing as right and wrong when it comes to humankind, even though scientists would like to lead experiments (with no guilt attached) that would have them succeed at becoming creationists instead. This group is known as the Darwinians, and they are currently looking at losing the funding they so desperately need. Although they originally select six teens for their study (based on the six Nobel Prize categories), they add Orfyn to the lot, and the story focuses on a specific trio of the Nobels.
Our sixteen-year-old heroine is named Lake, and she’s not actually ready to merge with her particular Mentor. Lake has the title, Nobel for Chemistry, and she is part of the inaugural class of Nobels that also includes Orfyn, the Nobel for Art. Even though they are up for this particular challenge, they begin to have more than a few doubts when the Nobel for Peace, a.k.a. Stryker, makes them question what the scientists behind this odd program actually have in mind.
Evil, and the darkest of secrets, begin to rise to the surface as the Nobels work to learn more about this program that could help people live forever...in a way. But as they investigate further, and the action mounts, these kids start to see the saviors of science look a great deal like suspects in a crime of monumental proportions. With each page, readers hold their breath while the young ones battle to save their own memories, as the Mentors begin to invade.
This definitely has to become a series. Even though the end is fantastic, there is so much more you want to learn about the rest of the Nobels who are waiting somewhere in the minds of this debut writing duo. I, for one, am already on the edge of my seat waiting for this couple to bring on the next tale so I can, once again, escape into this fantastic world.
Quill says: Intriguing, well-written, action-packed, and enough teen angst to make YA readers excited!
For more information on Merged, please visit the authors' website at: jimandstephbooks.com