Sixteen-year-old Alexandra Manning is a spinner, one of a small group of the population with a genetic anomaly that causes the body to produce an enzyme called chronotin, allowing her to freeze time and assist in criminal detective work with her assigned agent, Carson Ross. Off work, Alex is “leashed” and housed at a Crime Investigation Center with other spinners, where she is carefully monitored and medically managed to stabilize her chronotin level, and where she is (theoretically) protected from a distrustful and wary public.
Life at the Center is boring and short-lived; most spinners begin their training between the ages of 10-12 and rarely live past the age of 18 because of the effects of repetitive time sickness on their biological systems. Alex is thrilled to work with Ross because he shows confidence in her skills, provides excitement to her life, and generally validates her existence. As she continues to work with him, her admiration for him grows to the point that she begins to participate in legally questionable activities, because he promises her access to medical treatment that could extend her life beyond the expected norm (and, altruistically, save other spinners from early death). As Ross draws her further into his scheme to track certain arch criminals, Alex is pulled away from her friends at the Center and forced to make some major judgement calls that will impact them all.
Time freezing isn’t a particularly original concept these days, but the author puts an interesting spin on it by tracing it back to the witches in early Puritan days. The writing is clear, the story is intricate (but not confusingly so), the teenagers are heroic in their efforts to thwart the evil adults, and so on. Important lessons are learned, and, as we like to say, growth occurs. This book is obviously the first in an expected series and should appeal to YA readers.
There’s no sex except a very short reference to hookers, pimps, and a prostitution ring. In that same paragraph is mentioned drug use and gang violence, but this is, after all, a crime novel. Other instances of violence occur but nothing worse than what you see and hear on the nightly news. The only word I saw that might offend was “damn.” Really. To be such an entertaining (and thoughtful) book, this one is amazingly inoffensive.