One of the best recent developments in the rapidly changing publishing industry has been the emergence of Young Adult (YA) Fiction as a compelling and successful genre. Harry Potter, Twilight and more recently The Hunger Games have all been huge sellers, not only in the YA market, but also crossing over successfully to earn bestseller status among adult buyers. Two of the best books I’ve read in the last year were written for young adults: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. Now a new title may be added to the list of worthwhile YA reads: The Hekapolis Trilogy; Hypothesis by Ana Bastow.
Hypothesis is a fantasy novel, with elements reminiscent of both HP and Twilight. Magic and romance combine in a psychologically complex tale that is grounded in the reality of today’s sexual marketplace, i.e. hookup culture.
Gabrielle Bridge is a college sophomore who’s already beating the odds. With no father on the scene and a mother who’s usually drunk, Gabrielle is nonetheless brainy and focused. She’s an aspiring scientist who dreams of winning the Nobel Prize in physics one day. She is a virgin surrounded by sexually aggressive females who pressure her to seek empowerment in casual sex – especially her friend Tess and her own mother. (!!!!!)
One of the most compelling devices in the book is the development of various aspects of Gabrielle’s psyche as characters unto themselves. Brie, the Superego, is logical and rational. She drives Gabrielle’s achievement. Elle is the Femme Fatale Id, the dopamine addict who wants emotional drama and immediate physical gratification. Finally, Gabe is the voice of reason, the referee between Brie and Elle who considers both sides thoroughly before making any decisions. These three “voices” provide the reader a way of understanding and observing Gabrielle’s most private thoughts.
Gabrielle wants to do it right – in a committed relationship with Toby, her intellectual peer and star student. She’s made out with him once, and is eager to take it to the next level. In Gabrielle’s eyes, Toby is perfect. She wants nothing more than to become his partner in their lab class so that they can explore science and love together.
Interfering with Gabrielle’s plan is the partner assigned to her instead – pretty boy William, whom Gabrielle disparagingly refers to as Dumb Bill. William is a total player – which disgusts Gabrielle and marks him as a man of poor character in her book. Ms. Bastow is an astute observer of adolescent mating strategies, as evidenced in this scene:
William: “I was waiting for you to call me all day yesterday…”
Gabrielle: “…Why would I do that?”
William: “…I called you ugly yesterday. Most women would try to prove me wrong and win my affections after that.”
Gabrielle: “You’re crazy, that doesn’t sound like anyone I know…”
William: “…Women like a guy who shows confidence and is not impressed by their assets.”
This leads to a bet between the two, due to be settled at a party that night at the Alpha Omega house. In that scene William pulls off “Nice nails, are they real?” with a dumb bunny in a white miniskirt whose nasal shrieks and simpering giggles are the perfect response to his “game.” Gabrielle flees the cringeworthy scene but soon stumbles into Toby kissing another girl.
Needless to say, Gabrielle has formed some prejudices in the manner of Elizabeth Bennet, and Ms. Bastow does a masterful job of portraying Gabrielle’s evolving mindset as the guys’ true characters are revealed.
Along the way the plot thickens considerably, with wizards Homo Sortiarius living amongst Homo Sapiens and a secret sanctuary hidden in shadow called Hekapolis. An evil sorcerer threatens to destroy the world, and the only hope of victory lies with the recruitment of a human who is immune to his spells. Gabrielle becomes involved with a scientist’s curiosity and little regard for her own safety. The book’s conclusion is very satisfying, though naturally there is an insurmountable obstacle that must be overcome in the second book…Let’s hope that doesn’t resemble 50 Shades of Grey!
I do have one quibble with the book. The editing is not what one would wish – the text contains errors in both syntax and grammar. It is my earnest hope that book two of the trilogy will address this.
Buy the book HERE.