DISINTEGRATE, by Christine Klocek-Lim, is a young adult sci-fi thriller, rife with dramatic punch, dashed with mad scientist furor, then stirred up in a crockpot of government conspiracy—with a dose of superhero origin story thrown in, too. And then there’s the romance. Emily and Jax are a couple college kids who are, in different ways, running from their past before the action even starts. Emily knows she is exceptional but she doesn’t know why. Her father is gone—or dead—and her mother is lost in a descent into substance abuse and depression. She’s found a friend and a roommate at school, but no answers … until she meets Jax. And, really, if I were to say anything more about him right here, that would be telling. Let’s just say that Jax is surprising, a character who unfolds with the plot, even as Emily wrestles with her love for him and her default mistrust of the whole universe and just about everyone in it. The magic of this book is that, once Emily and Jax have moved on from timid flirting—that is to say, timid on Emily’s part; Jax has the flirtatious energy of a small dog on a Monster energy drink—to an actual date, the story pretty much explodes into continuous action. Everything past that point is revealed on the rumbling train-without-brakes that this story becomes: character development, plot twists, backstory—all of it happens while the reader is holding onto this book with one hand and trying not to fall off of it. DISINTEGRATE is a cross-genre book that would appeal to a wide spectrum of readers. There’s some gritty subject matter here. Klocek-Lim does not needlessly reel back or censor herself for the young adult audience, and the protagonists of this book don’t reign in their language for the benefit of readers who actually hear worse than that walking down the halls at their real-life high schools. The characters are both fantastical and authentic—flawed, rather innocent in a sort of dirt-smudged go-to-hell kind of way, and heroic. The ending has a nice little bow wrapping it up, too—a connection to a critical symbol early in the book. But that bow is just a little … loose—leaving the possibility for more of this tale to be told.
Emily just wanted a normal life: a boyfriend, college, two parents who loved her. Instead, her dad disappeared when she was fourteen and her life at college is anything but ordinary.
When you can manipulate matter like putty and you have no idea why, how do you pretend to be like everyone else? What happens when you meet a guy who has the same powers? Do you trust him to help you find the answers you need?
Emily desperately wants to believe that Jax can help, but the stakes grow higher than she’d ever expected: someone is after them and they’re not afraid to use violence to get what they want.
14+ for brief violence and adult situations
“I … think you’ve got the wrong impression of the two of us,” she mumbled. “We’re just friends.” And that’s all we’ll ever be, Emily told herself.
The woman shook her head. “No. I don’t think I do.” She wiped at the bar, nodding once as though making up her mind. “He’s a good kid.” She moved off, pouring a beer as she made her way down to the other end of the bar.
Emily blinked, confused by the bartender’s confidence. Jax sang on, oblivious to the conversation they were having about him only a few feet away.
And then the wall by the door exploded.
Emily froze for a split second while the bartender looked stupidly at the mess, then rushed for the stage, shoving through the few people beginning to realize something was very, very wrong. Jax hadn’t reacted and her first instinct was to get him to safety. She knew they were there for her, and she also knew they wouldn’t hesitate to destroy anyone near her in an effort to get to her. The best thing to do was get out.
Heart pounding, she grabbed him by the sleeve and dragged him down and off the stage. His guitar strap broke and the instrument hit the floor with a harsh twang. She winced, knowing it was his dad’s guitar, and important to Jax, but she didn’t stop. She couldn’t afford to do anything about it. Her skin was jumping and buzzing and she yanked—
Jax fell over her, hands raised, and Emily chanced a look back. There were three of them, huge and intent. Their faces were covered. One had a shotgun, oh God…
“Get down!” Jax yelled, shoving her over.
She ignored him, pulling until he had no choice but to follow. It was that or step on her. He still had his hands up. Something went boom—the gun, she thought—and then the staccato crunch of wood splintering around her bled through her panic. She shoved Jax ahead of her, hard. The door behind the stage hung ajar, and she stumbled for it, skin prickling as static arced around her fingers.
“Get back!” she panted, and Jax tripped. She tried to pull him up, but his muscular frame was too much for her thin frame. “Jax, you’ve gotta get up.”
He stared at her from the floor, dazed. A trickle of blood ran from a cut near his eye.
Was he hit? “Jax, get up!” she hissed.
Finally, he shoved off from the floor and staggered to his feet, falling against her. Not shot then, she thought, relieved. He wouldn’t be standing if he’d been seriously injured.
She tugged him down the dark hallway. When she looked back, she couldn’t believe they hadn’t been followed. Or at least not yet. Swallowing hard, she grabbed his hand, ignoring the electric tingle of his skin, and dragged him into the wall. He oofed as his head hit the paneling, but she had no time to worry about it. She pressed her fingers to the dirty surface and pushed, concentrating on dissolving the bonds of matter in her body and his. It wasn’t easy. She had to sort of push her energy into it, harder than she’d ever had to before. It felt a little like juggling upside down. She needed to hang onto him and release everything else, simultaneously. She had to keep his hand solid in hers while phasing their bodies out. For a moment, she thought she would fail or go mad, and then something clicked—
—her hands sank into the wall. She shuddered, hating the sticky feel of molecules sliding into her like this. One finger, one hand, no problem, but her entire body? That was creepy and weird. What she was doing wasn’t natural. Humans weren’t supposed to be able to shove pieces of themselves into pieces of other stuff, and here she was trying to shove her entire body, and Jax’s too, into the filthy inside of a bar wall. She almost sobbed … it was taking too long, they were coming—
—and then Jax’s fingers tightened around hers and it felt like electricity shooting into her bones. He gasped and then they fell into the wall together, their matter pressed into and within the wood and concrete and insulation.
Nausea rose. She fought it down. No time for that, she snarled to herself. No damn space for barfing. She gripped Jax’s hand, trying to keep still and quiet and think while also somehow conveying to him the need for calm. He could freak out later.
And he would, she knew. They were completely hidden, existing half in reality and half in the shadowy space between atoms that she’d been able to manipulate since forever. He would want to know how she did it. He would want do know why she’d dragged him into this.
A short, sharp boom echoed weirdly through her. They’d made it to the hall, though she couldn’t see them. She couldn’t see anything. Her eyes didn’t work inside the wall. Jax’s iron-willed calm filtered slowly through her veins, as if she could feel his emotions. God, this was completely horrible, she thought, willing the men to just go away. She needed to run—
—and then there was silence. She didn’t know how long it had been quiet, but Jax was pulling at her. She forced herself to think move and let go and enough and she stepped forward and out—
—and they fell into the hall, coughing. She stifled a gag, her right hand burning from the rough flooring. She’d just caught herself before her head hit the opposite wall.
“Jesus, what—” Jax choked, turning to her. He wouldn’t let go of her hand.
“We need to see if they’re gone,” she managed, rubbing her face on her shoulder. Her knees hurt. She felt filthy, as if she’d ingested the dirt that penetrated every portion of the wall.
Jax leaned down and put his free hand flat on the floor. He closed his eyes.
Emily stared. What was he doing?
A second later he shook his head. “Everyone is gone.” He grimaced. “Or dead.”
“How—” she began to ask, but then the skin on her hand prickled, the one he still held. Jax looked at her arm. She looked at his palm. Tiny sparks arced between them, silver stars that made no sense.
A wonderfully suspenseful YA novel that tackles not only such topics as special skills, bio engineering, and abuse of science, but also themes close to any reader, adult or young adult, like themes of family, friendship, love, belonging. This novel is easy to read in one sitting as it pulls you in from the first pages and doesn't let go to the very last surprise in the Epilogue. The relationship between the two main characters, Emily and Jax, is marvellously dynamic and evolving. Their relationship changes them, changes their view of life. It helps them find the strength to search for the reasons behind their special skills. That secret, in turn, is the basis for the intense, action-packed plot that doesn't disappoint with twists and turns and surprising revelations. Emily's struggle to find her place, to belong, is something many young adult readers will be able to identify with. She is different, but only on the surface, deep down she's searching for parental love and guidance, for friendship that she finds in her roommate, for love that comes along in the form of Jax, a boy with skills similar to her own and even bigger problems. When they are being mercilessly hunted, attacked, and even kidnapped, they come to realize that friendship can give you strength, and that family is not always who you're related to. Help other customers find the most helpfu
Disintegrate is a thoughtful, sensitive YA book that will appeal to any teenager who's going through those growing pains that we've all felt. Loneliness. Relationship anxiety. Attracting attention from faceless enemies that want to use you as a lab rat. You know, the usual. I loved Disintegrate! It's written with a quiet, subtle voice that pulls you in. From the first page, you feel like Emily is a friend you've known for years, with a secret that she's only just begun to confide in you. Her ability to rearrange matter amazes us but it's such a part of her that it's inseparable, which only pulls us in closer -- unlike most superheroes, it makes her more human, not less. Her relationship with Jax is awkward, funny, cool and a powder keg, all those things that drove me nuts back when I was a teenager. The suspense is tight. Every time you think it can't go higher, it does.
Disintegrate got my attention right from the start and kept me swiping page after page for more excitement! I loved how the relationship between Emily and Jax evolved and how it filled the void they at first unknowingly shared. The author's easy flow made the book a wonderful read. I had to keep reminding myself it was meant for YA audience because it never felt juvenile or bored me in a "been there, done that" kind of way...it just brought together all the feelings we go through as humans, and keep experiencing throughout the stages of life. Imaginative and enjoyable...highly recommended to everyone!
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Em and Jax were great characters and worth being interested in. Right from the beginning the story had a nice, fast pace that kept me wanting to read. I actually picked up the book yesterday and wouldn't put it down today till I was done! The characters were worth knowing and wanting to know what was going to happen to them was like a sweet drug :-) Or skipping a meal or two. Some of my favorite lines: "The world was supposed to have cheap, ugly rooms, it was a fact of life." - Emily Weaver Disintegrate "Basically, I threw air at them and it went boom." - Jax Disintegrate
I loved this fast paced YA story and I couldn’t put it down. We’re introduced to Emily who is a college student and trying to have a normal life just like anyone else her age. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen because she possesses a special ability that normal people her age don’t have. You see, Emily has the paranormal ability to rearrange matter. She’s amazed by this ability, but wishes she didn’t have it because it makes her very different from everyone else. My heart went out to her because it’s so reminiscent of those bumpy teenage years when you’re trying to fit in, but at the same time develop who you’re going to be as an adult. The author did a wonderful job explaining Emily’s ability and how she felt having it. I felt that I was Emily’s friend seeing and feeling what she felt as it was happening to her. I also enjoyed getting to know Jax, another teenager who had the same ability as Emily, and I was so happy they had each other to depend upon while they both tried figuring out how to use their abilities. There was plenty of suspense that kept me turning the pages frantically as I was trying to figure out if they were going to be alright when they discovered that someone was after them. I loved their relationship together and I wanted them to be there for each other no matter what it involved. I’m new to this author and her writing, but she has made a new fan in me now. If being in college isn’t enough stress for the average teenager, how would you be able to handle finding out that you have a paranormal ability you need to develop? That’s exactly what Emily has to do. Her special gift is that she can manipulate matter, but although it’s a cool thing to have that makes her different, this very ability puts her in the hot seat to have people come after her. Luckily, she meets up with Jax, another teenager with the same paranormal ability and they bond together to help protect one another. There’s a spark between them, but do they decide to act upon it? Do they learn how to use their abilities to their potential? Who is after the both of them and what do they want from Emily and Jax?
I just finished reading the YA novel, Disintegrate. It's a briskly paced and deftly plotted adventure of two teens with extraordinary powers. Strong characterizations, especially that of the female protagonist, Emily, give the short novel an emotional anchor. I particularly appreciated Emily's decidedly un-Bella Swan blandness. The author takes the popular trope of powers by mutation, and gives it a spin--a spin away from X-men. It's more, well, human. I liked that. Klocek-Lim is also a poet, and doesn't waste a word.
A wonderfully suspenseful YA novel that tackles not only such topics as special skills, bio engineering, and abuse of science, but also themes close to any reader, adult or young adult, like themes of family, friendship, love, belonging. This novel is easy to read in one sitting as it pulls you in from the first pages and doesn’t let go to the very last surprise in the Epilogue. The relationship between the two main characters, Emily and Jax, is marvellously dynamic and evolving. Their relationship changes them, changes their view of life. It helps them find the strength to search for the reasons behind their special skills. That secret, in turn, is the basis for the intense, action-packed plot that doesn’t disappoint with twists and turns and surprising revelations. Emily’s struggle to find her place, to belong, is something many young adult readers will be able to identify with. She is different, but only on the surface, deep down she’s searching for parental love and guidance, for friendship that she finds in her roommate, for love that comes along in the form of Jax, a boy with skills similar to her own and even bigger problems. When they are being mercilessly hunted, attacked, and even kidnapped, they come to realize that friendship can give you strength, and that family is not always who you’re related to.