Jan 012014

jacobs-theshibbolethBooklist: Jacob’s The Twelve-Fingered Boy (2012) was exactly what the teens-with-powers subgenre needed: a fullbody beat down that reminded us that having such powers would really, really suck. This hefty sequel follows 16-year-old delinquent Shreve, who can possess people’s bodies, as he shifts from juvenile facility to psych ward to, at last, the Society of Extranaturals, a boot camp of sorts for “post-human” kids run by the highly untrustworthy Mr. Quincrux. Their (supposed) goal: to destroy “the elder” that is causing a nationwide wave of deadly insomnia. This is a dyed-in-the-wool middle book—filled with training, planning, and sinister omens, its chief achievement is to foment excitement for the finale. And in that it succeeds splendidly, courtesy of new friend and new foes, none of whom exist in either camp comfortably. As before, Shreve’s appealing truculence is weighed down by the anguish of sharing the memories of too many damaged people. Jacobs works his ass off here; that’s the best way to put it because you can feel the work, in the best of senses, to make each paragraph a battling push-pull of bruising toughness, electric wit, and dazzling metaphysicality. This fits uncomfortably in every box in which you’d try to put it—in other words, it’s totally unique.
— Daniel Kraus