Every morning I go to a particular cafe in my neighborhood. I sit there for hours, drinking my tea and talking with friends, and working. There are a number of writers who work in the cafe. You can always tell who they are, as they furiously write for a few moments and then stare out the window for awhile. Then they go back to typing furiously and then back to looking out the window. They have a strong ability to tune out the chatter and ignore the traffic flow of people coming and going.
One of these writers is Alysia Helming.
Her new book, Protogenesis, is a Young Adult – YA – novel that is set in Greece. It’s a little bit of a mysterious romance novel with a mythological sci-fi twist. The main character, Helene Crawford, is a seventeen year old American growing up in Livermore, California and is a senior in high school, when something crazy happens in her life and she is quickly shuttled off to live with her godfather in Athens mid-school year. Arriving in the city as a confused, distraught, and slightly unsure teenager, she doesn’t believe what she has been told by the frustrating adults that surround her and she spends the rest of the book searching the city, and beyond, for answers. While doing so, she has a butterfly metamorphosis and comes out of it as an even stronger person. Oh, and there is a boy, ahem, a guy, rather two guys, that make up a teenage love triangle.
No spoilers here!
Every time I put the book down, usually because of some distraction or time constraint, I kept wanting to get back to it – which is a good sign. I really liked the story! It really only took two and half days to finish it because the story is an easy read. The descriptive narration helped me to easily visualize the details of being in Greece – buildings, landscape, people – while reading the story. Written with a real sense of place, I got a feel not only for the tourist Athens, but also for the culture of the city that the local Greeks live in – and a refresher course in Greek Mythology!
Alysia did her homework while writing this book. Besides reading a lot of other YA novels, I think she took at least four research trips to Athens, maybe more, and created a lot of magic herself, before she declared the book finished.
Protogenesis is the first novel in a planned seven book series called The Protogena Chronicles. I’m looking forward to where these books are going to take us!