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This is the best work of YA science-fiction I’ve read in a very long time.  I was completely captivated from start to finish. By the end I was completely bug-eyed (and in tears) and skipped eating on my lunch break so I could finish it.

Linked tells the story of Elissa, who used to be a normal and somewhat popular girl.  Three years ago, however, she began to have headaches and visions, then dreams that came with enormous pain and left her with bruises all over her body.  The night she discovers that she is, in fact, mentally linked with another girl whose whole life has consisted of torture at the hands of scientists, her world is flipped on its head and she is swept away in a whirlwind of danger.

I have to give a huge nod to Imogen Howson for creating a sci-fi, futuristic world that is NOT dystopian.  I have to say, I’m getting a little tired of the dystopian concept.  While there are certainly different rules and regulations in this future, they are nowhere near the level needed to qualify it as a dystopian society.  Instead, this book takes place thousands of years in the future, on a planet that resembles Earth, but is in fact a terraformed planet–one of many in this futuristic world.  She does such an amazing job in the first chapter (or two?) of convincing her readers that the story takes place on Earth.

Howson’s world-building is extremely impressive.  I was totally convince that her society and her technologies could be real, and was pleased with all the futuristic gadgets and ships.  There is a fantastic back story on why people left Earth, and a whole interplanetary system whose planets are rated by inhabitability and quality of life, kind of like 1st-3rd world countries here on Earth.

Elissa is a great character.  She’s flawed, and the reader gets to experience her inner turmoil all throughout, first from feeling like an outcast because of her mysterious illness and then because of her uncertain feelings about the girl with whom she is linked.  Throw in an unexpected romance, and you have a great story that really grips you.  Lin, the other girl, is quite disagreeable at times because she was tortured for her whole life.  Often, Elissa is torn on whether or not she should help Lin, because Lin sometimes displays the traits of a sociopath.  But Lin is fiercely loyal to Elissa, and Elissa grows to be quite loyal to Lin.  The development of their relationship is at times painful but more often than not is heartwarming.

I definitely recommend this book to everyone, but especially females.  I feel like a lot of times science-fiction is geared toward male readers, with either a male protagonist or a sexy, badass female one.  This one is definitely a great sci-fi read, but it’s also filled with the emotion and struggle of a girl’s coming to grips with her womanhood and the person she wants to be as a grown-up.  Pick it up in June.  Seriously.

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