Author: S.J. Parkinson
Publication Date: July 14, 2014
Source: Virtual Author Book Tours
The richest man in the world wants to celebrate the July 4th holiday as never before. In a bid to get into the record books, a global fireworks show is staged from orbit. Satellites drop pyrotechnics into the atmosphere, thrilling everyone from the Arctic to the Antarctic with their rich colors and massive explosions in every time zone. The next day, people around the globe begin to lose their sight. Governments crumble, society degenerates, and infrastructure falls into chaos. Humanity finds itself stumbling in the dark and losing all hope. A few fortunate individuals retain their vision. Attempting to deal with the growing despair around them, they come together to discover the true purpose and origin of the affliction. They race to find a cure before the world is subjugated under an invading power.
"Sir Marcus Brandon, Knight Commander of the Victorian Order, sat in a fabric director's chair before a compact makeup table in a small windowless room. Normally used for storage, the space had been converted into an ad hoc dressing and makeup area for that night."
Before I begin, I should note that I've been reading a LOT of YA lit recently. I taught 8th grade for the last few years, and it's a level of literature that I find to be fun, easy to connect with, and beautifully idealistic. S.J. Parkinson's book is the first adult fiction novel I've read in quite awhile. Not because I dislike adult fiction, but mostly because I've had so many other exciting YA lit options on my list! Not through any fault of the author, it took me a little while to make the cross over.
The most immediate difference that stood out was the sex. In YA lit, the sexiest we really get is some passionate kissing and maybe a touch here or there. The more "scandalous" YA novels will even throw in some implied sex "off screen" so to speak. But adult books talk about it pretty blatantly, and this is something I had forgotten. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against sex. I'm married and quite enjoy it actually, but I don't really feel the need to read about other people doing it. I know that the wider American adult audience would probably disagree with me here, but I kind of like my innocent YA world where sex is barely implied. It makes for idealistic romantic gestures, like late night cuddling and forbidden passionate kisses that we adults often forget about from our youth. Maybe I'm just a sap. That being said, I do appreciate that sex was the one place that Parkinson didn't go into explicit detail. It is there. It's talked about and it is even a very logical place for a few of his characters to end up, but he keeps it pretty PG-13 material for the most part.
Another difference is that YA lit is very plot and character driven and often doesn't stop to give a lot of detail about the setting, background information, mundane or routine actions of the characters, or any other information that is not directly related to pushing the story along. That's because the general YA audience has a much shorter attention span and can't process that much detail or simply chooses not to. Adult readers can handle a lot of information and not lose the wider story in the mix. Because of this disparity, it took me a bit to get into a story with Parkinson's level of detail, but once I did, I really liked it. Going back to YA lit after this book, I actually found myself missing the kind of detail that you find in a realistic adult interpretation of a book's world. The realism Parkinson is able to bring out in his world is amazing. He has an attention to detail that is phenominal, and it's obvious that he has done his homework. Asterisks and footnotes even give extra information about military, scientific, and medical jargon as well as strategic locations and actual American history. While this book is classified as "science fiction" because of it's somewhat futuristic and apocalyptic feel and its yet to be discovered weaponry, such as "blindness warheads," it is very much based in the realism of our world. This is something that we often don't see in this genre, but I found it somewhat refreshing and new. It gave some boundaries to the otherwise limitless world of sci-fi.
My only complaint is that the cure for the blindness was found super quickly. Being married to a scientist has given me a glimpse into how long it truly takes to get experiments to do what you want them to, let alone fix a pandemic with no known cure on the first try! Parkinson was pretty good at keeping his story fairly realistic, especially from a military standpoint, but this science failed to convince me. However, in the Author's Afterword, Parkinson explains this as both a fictional cure for a fictional pandemic and a way to move the story along without it being ridiculously long. From this stand point, I totally get it. And I appreciate that Parkinson took the time to explain this to his readers. His research and the personal experiences that fueled the inspiration for this story are pretty amazing. I definitely think this book is a winner.
I also found the title to be interesting. At first, I was a little taken aback by it: Twinkle. It sounds more like a fairytale picture book than a gripping adult science fiction novel. However, once I got into the story, I realized that "twinkle" actually plays a significant role in the story. It is used as a Twitter hashtag by one of the first characters to see the orbital light show and goes global. #Twinkle not only crashes Twitter's servers, it ensures that a vast majority of the world turns out to see a light show celebrating a distinctly American holiday. It is actually a catalyst for the disaster to follow because it exposes so many people throughout the world to the very thing that takes their sight away. Looking at it from this perspective, the word "twinkle" seems a lot more menacing.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to checking out some of Parkinson's other novels.
About the Author
Mr. Parkinson was an Air Force avionics technician, a decorated veteran of the Persian Gulf War, and several United Nations peacekeeping missions. He has lived overseas in numerous countries and travels extensively. His novels have been praised for their realism and sold in fourteen countries, winning multiple international awards (Three “Outstanding in Genre” Gold Seal awards from Red Adept Publishing and Kindle Book of the Month award Oct 2013 by the People’s Choice Book Awards).
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