Rating: 4 out of 5
Synopsis: What would you do if you were God? If you had the power to not only give life, but take it away in the blink of an eye? These are the questions that haunt fifteen-year-old Abbey Baxter after she resurrects a boy, long lost to the ages.
The achingly beautiful and eternally melancholy Cole not only serves as a welcome distraction from her long-time crush, Elwin, but also eases the heartache that persists since the sudden passing of her younger brother, Junior, four years earlier.
As the intrigue of her relationship with Cole deepens, so too does the mystery that surrounds a growing phenomenon sweeping through her small West Virginian town, transforming the lives of its residents. Around her, two bedroom cottages are transforming into mansions without explanation and residents are waking up to bank balances that have tripled overnight, all under the watchful gaze of the sinister American Laboratory for Particle Physics, located on the outskirts of town.
As Abbey searches for answers in a bid to solve the mystery in partnership with Elwin, she’s forced into a realization that that some things are better left buried, including her newfound love, Cole.
This cautionary tale of heartache and obsession explores the endless possibilities of the universe and its devastating impact on two young lovers from different worlds.
Review: I am going to start by saying this: I dislike science in general. I like that it exists, but I often switch off when people start talking about it (which happens often where I work). My understanding of science is from The Big Bang Theory, the stuff that I cannot ignore at work, and the understanding that I really hated my high school science teacher. So, for these reasons, I generally don’t love science fiction novels or stories that include science…. but Ingrid Jonach’s stories are definitely an exception to the rule!
As with When the World Was Flat (and were in love), Ingrid has weaved science into her storyline without putting off those of us who dislike sciencey type stuff. With her effortless writing style, unique characters and intricate storyline, Ingrid will pull you in with her words and demand that you feel the emotions of the story.
What would you do if you were God? Well, Abbey creates a distraction from her grief-filled life by bringing back a boy long lost in the Italian Renaissance. The boy of her dreams, Cole, comes to life with the stroke of a brush and pulls Abbey away from the grief over the loss of her brother and her yearning for her best friend’s brother, Elwin.
But being God isn’t all it is cracked up to be, and cracks certainly start emerging as Abbey, and others in her small town, start to realise that their dreams can come at a very high price. Playing God does not come without consequences.
I actually found Abbey to be a pretty unlikeable character for the most part. I found her need for escapism annoying and her inability to question things frustrating…. but doesn’t that just make the story all the more interesting? I actually don’t mind not connecting to the main protagonist sometimes, and this storyline is certainly strong enough to support this type of character. In fact, I think that was really the point – Abbey was uncertain, elusive, unsure, timid, scared, obsessive and broken – but all this doesn’t mean she is weak, she still has the capability to be somebody’s God… and playing God can just be as disastrous for those with good intentions, as it can be as those with bad ones.
Don’t get me wrong, Abbey did have some good traits. Abbey was caring, loyal and intelligent (besides her preference of living in denial). This is one thing that I love about Ingrid’s writing – her characters are complex. Every character has his or her strengths and weaknesses, and I think that this is particularly shown in In the Beginning There Was Us. There are times where you see that the evil that hurts you doesn’t necessarily come from other people, that it can come from deep within yourself.
The relationships within the story are as equally complex as the characters themselves. There are so many dimensions within the relationships, and they are always rotating and evolving. Within these relationships there are many aspects of love, deceit, protection, abuse, truth, willingness, honestly, desire, regret, friendship, lies and manipulation. I absolutely adored the complexities within each character and their relationships.
I stand by statement in my review of When the World Was Flat, Ingrid’s stories are “are appealing and she shows great promise of bring some true originality to YA”. In the Beginning There Was Us is another great example of this – Ingrid creates a world full of possibilities and shows us devastation and determination. And that sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.
I thoroughly enjoyed this refreshing and compelling story all the way to the very end. I will admit, the ending did make break my heart a little. I have already expressed my deep hurt over this with the author (hi Ingrid!), and although it hurt, I felt that the ending was true to story (but you are still evil and I am still upset with you Ingrid). But ultimately, this is a story of possibilities, and that includes mystery, deceit, friendship, truth, distraction, strength, denial, courage and heartache.