Just Another Quiet Little Town by J.S. Frankel
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (197 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
City dweller Gabe Common, seventeen and a high school dropout, has just moved with his mother to Chumsville, South Dakota, a speck in the eye of humanity. With a population of around three hundred people, Gabe is resigned to spending his summer studying online and watching the wheat grow.
It all changes when he wakes up one morning and finds most of Chumsville’s population gone, including his mother. Along with the other survivors, he finds that an impenetrable barrier has surrounded the town which allows people to enter but not leave. To make matters even stranger, he finds wings growing from his body, and the other residents exhibit changes as well, some of them interesting and many of them frightening.
Soon the Changed, as Gabe comes to call them, are met by the FBI, and they are just as bewildered as everyone else is. Tensions mount as the heat rises, harsh words are exchanged, and sides are drawn. Once Gabe discovers the reason for their transformation, he has to deal with another matter—the darkness of the human heart. It is only then that he learns what it is to confront evil and face it down, even if it might cost him his life.
Nobody likes to feel stuck. Gabe has even more reasons than most people do for hating this feeling.
The plot twists were well done. I gasped when I discovered one of them before diving back into the plot to see what might happen next. It was simply that surprising. I’ve been reading Mr. Frankel’s novels for a few years now, and his ability to come up with logical but also unexpectedly thrilling twists has only grown in the time I’ve been following his career. This is truly an area where he shines, and I’d especially recommend checking out Just Another Quiet Little Town to anyone who enjoys this kind of stuff as much as I do.
There were quite a few flashbacks in this book. While I liked having such a clear picture of how difficult Gabe’s life was before he moved to Chumsville, they did seriously slow down the pacing of the plot in the beginning. They also took attention away from the main conflicts. It would have been nice to have more time to figure out why people’s bodies were changing so bizarrely and why they couldn’t leave the city limits instead. Those plot points were what originally attracted me to the storyline, so I really wanted to spend as much time as possible on them.
Speaking of transformations, I relished the author’s descriptions of what the citizens of Chumsville looked like after the weird events started happening. Some of the mutations sounded downright beautiful. Others were gross or just plain odd. All of them were vivid, though, and made it easy for me to imagine what it would be like to be trapped under those circumstances.
I’d recommend Just Another Quiet Little Town to anyone who is in the market for a truly imaginative tale.