In the midst of heated negotiations, India’s UN ambassador narrowly escapes an assassination attempt. His daughter, who witnessed the event, isn’t so lucky. Physically the girl is fine, but mentally Maanik is suffering. At first the change is simply that of a happy and bubbly teen retreating into herself. Soon thereafter Maanik experiences episodes involving self-mutilation and begins speaking in tongues. Desperate to help their daughter but keep things under wraps, the girl’s parents reach out to Caitlin O’Hara, an expert in child psychology.
While a fellow doctor suggests Maanik is exhibiting signs of schizophrenia, Caitlin vehemently disagrees. Then reports of similar cases surface in Haiti and Iran. Rather than drug the teen into a quiet stupor, Caitlin vows to find the root of the problem, and as Maanik’s episodes intensify, she becomes more devoted to the case. What she discovers suggests that Maanik and the other two teens could be the beginning of a disturbing trend that defies scientific explanation.
I had pretty grand expectations of A Vision of Fire. Not only is it a return to sci-fi by one of the genre’s most-recognized faces (Gillian Anderson) it marked the launch of a brand new imprint at Simon and Schuster – Simon451.
Ultimately, Anderson and Jeff Rovin’s collaboration did live up to those expectations but it was something of a bumpy ride. The overarching story of the troubled teens was compelling enough but I found that Caitlin’s investigation of the phenomena did begin to drag somewhat. Fortunately, the big reveal was satisfying as both an explanation for Maanik’s attacks as well as a driving plot for the series.
The Global Explorers’ Club really wasn’t very adequately fleshed out but as this is just the first outing in a multi-part series I would hope they are to be the focus of subsequent titles.
Overall, A Vision of Fire was a satisfying start to what I hope will be an exciting series as a whole.
10/14 Becky LeJeune
A VISION OF FIRE by Gillian Anderson & Jeff Rovin. Simon & Schuster/ Simon451 (October 7, 2014). ISBN 978-1476776521. 304p.