Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review: Equilibrium by Imogen Rose

Equilibrium: Portal Chronicles Book TwoFrom the back cover of Equilibrium:

It's not every day you see a naked body slumped by the side of the road...


When California teen Arizona Darley and her siblings go missing, their mother, Dr. Olivia Darley discovers that the time-travel portal she invented has been hijacked.

Is the hijacker responsible for the disappearance of her children?  Have the children been transported to another dimension? If so, the police and FBI will never be able to find them, and Olivia must find a way to rescue her children on her own.

How will she do this without access to the portal?

*          *          *

Book 2 in the Portal Chronicles, Equilibrium continues to follow the multi-dimensional tale of Arizona Stevens-Darley, her family, friends and one special little dog named Gertrude.  Imogen Rose's time-traveling novel is not a stand-alone volume.  To understand the plot (and this review), you will need to step back and read its delightful predecessor, Portal.  Furthermore, if you would like to avoid any spoiler material, please continue reading after the next set of red stars below.
Equilibrium picks up shortly after Portal's cliffhanger conclusion, jumping right back into Arizona's struggles to deal with the consequences of her mother's decisions.  Olivia Darley has uprooted daughter Arizona from her life, taking her and others to a new time and dimension.  Here Arizona finds a better home life and a wonderful boyfriend, yet she still longs to return to what she sees as her "real" life and her real (albeit loser) father.

As seen in the closing pages of Portal, Arizona was given the opportunity to return to her old life, but in that moment she chose to stay in her new dimension.  The window of time in which she had to make this decision was a small one, and her feelings for boyfriend Kellan enabled her to agree to stay – for now.

Staying in her new dimension doesn’t last long, however.  Within a short amount of time, Arizona, Kellan and others are mysteriously kidnapped.  This begins a roller-coaster ride for the characters of Equilibrium as enemy forces contend with them to meet their dimensional-travel goals, with little to no regard for the welfare of others.

Although hinted at in Portal, the group of people called the Wanderers takes a larger role in Equilibrium.  Wanderers are able to travel as if using a portal, only they can do it on their own with no apparatus required.  They’re concerned about the care and safety of Olivia, her family and friends, and are willing to use their special abilities to help them in their struggle against their enemies.  Without them, Olivia & company could lose control over not just the portal, but the trajectory of their lives.

*           *           *

After Portal’s delectable cliffhanger, I eagerly dove into Equilibrium and read it within a short period of time.  Once again Imogen Rose has brought us entertaining and interesting writing, with characters we care about and new twists to the story begun in the previous novel.  As mentioned in my Portal review, I’m fascinated with time travel and Rose’s addition of dimensional travel makes her story even more inviting.

Unlike the first book, I thankfully didn’t have a sense of disorientation as I read.  I understood the world(s) in which the characters were living and the roles they were playing.  That being said, I still enjoyed Portal more than Equilibrium.  This might just be a case of Act II limbo, wherein first and last acts provide more satisfaction due to the introduction and conclusion they provide.   I felt that much of this portion of the series was spent going back and forth to different locations, as characters were frequently lost and found during their struggles.  While there wasn’t a dull moment to be found, all the running about wasn’t as captivating as I would have liked.

Equilibrium also has its own tasty cliffhanger, though.  Of course it whet my appetite in anticipation of the next title Quantum, which should be available before the end of 2010.  I’m looking forward to seeing what transpires in the lives of these characters.  What will happen with the portal?  Where are Olivia & company going to end up next?  Good may prevail in the end, but what trials will they go through? What terrible sacrifices must be made to get there? And what role does Gertrude the dog play in all of this?!?

*          *          *

Review Update: 
Author Imogen Rose has informed me that The Portal Chronicles is not a trilogy!  I'm not sure why I ever thought otherwise.  In any case, I'm looking forward to as many Portal Chronicles titles as Imogen will share with us!


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