Title: Phantom Universe
Author: Laura Kreitzer
Publisher: Revolution Press
Pages: Ebook; 228
Release Date: February 3, 2011
Source: Purchased at B&N
Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Violence
HDB Rating: 3 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who are comfortable with the concepts of slavery and torture.
Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Sold into slavery to pirates at the young age of four, Summer learns to survive the rough seas of subterfuge and thieves through silence. When the boat she's lived on most of her life is destroyed, Summer finds herself washed up on the shore of a new world, a phantom universe full of the bizarre and extraordinary. She meets Gage, the one boy who understands the girl with no speech. But when their lives are put on the line, will Summer finally call out? Or will all be lost in the fathomless depth of silence?
The thing that stood out to me the most in this book? Summer. Her life is unlike anything I've read before. Here is a girl who was taken from her only family member at an extremely young age. She was tortured, abused, raised to be a mute and compliant little slave. To say that Summer's experiences hurt me is an understatement. I'm glad that Laura Kreitzer tackled the way that young slaves are treated in the slave trade, that exists even now. Still it is quite tough to read. Just a warning there for younger or more squeamish readers. Summer's life was fascinating for me from the very beginning, because she was so strong despite everything else.
Romance also makes a debut here, and I actually really adored the way that Kreitzer fleshed it out. Summer is a girl who hasn't been able to trust anyone else since she was taken. Now there is a special person in her life who makes her feel whole again. I won't spoil, but it's really sweet. Sure there were times when it seemed a bit overboard, but again, this is in the mind of a girl who just wants someone to treat her right. Gage is all sorts of adorable! I can't wait to see where these two go next.
What lost me a bit was the very intense story line that takes place towards the middle of this story. Phantom Universe isn't just about a girl who is a young slave. It has modern day pirate ships (complete with 21st century heists), the concept of time travel, and even a future society that is dead set on annihilating its refugees. Think concentration camps for people from the past. In all honesty by the time I was nearing the end of Part II, I was slightly confused.
There is a lot going on in this first book, and I'm sure that it is all important to the second one. It seemed really mashed into itself in an effort to fit it all in. I would have liked to know more about the Secret Clock Society. I also was really intrigued by the set of people that Gage was running from, and the "Exodus" that caused them to exist in the first place. I felt unfulfilled at a lot of the unanswered questions. I'm hoping most of this will be resolved in the second book.
To wrap up this rather rambling review, Phantom Universe ultimately turned out to be a book that I really did enjoy. There were a few hiccups here and there, but I'm genuinely excited to get to dive into the next in the series. If nothing else, I believe that Summer will steal your heart. Her story is heart wrenching, but so amazing at the same time. Give this one a shot, I think you'll enjoy it.