The Pulse by James G. Alva
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (100 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Today, Ben is on the run. He is seventeen years old, and he is being hunted by a mysterious government agency known only as Midwich. Today, they have found him, and have launched an attack on the block of flats where he now lives.
Why are these men chasing Ben? One summer three years ago, something mysterious happened in Ben’s home town of Piermont Sands: an unusual explosion that Ben calls The Pulse destroyed part of the university, killing three people. But more people are dying in Piermont Sands, murdered by an unknown assailant, and the only connection between the victims seems to be Ben and his friends.
Can they find out who is responsible for these killings, before their families – and quite possibly themselves – become the next victims?
Sometimes you have to try to figure everything out while you’re on the run.
Switching between what was currently going on in Ben’s life and how all of the strange occurrences in his town began three years ago was a great strategy. I was equally excited to read both storylines, and I couldn’t wait to see how they would eventually come together. One of the things I liked the most about flipping from one time period to the next was that it showed me how much Ben has changed over the years. This might not have been something I noticed as clearly if it had been written chronologically, but his growth as a person stood out to me every time the plot moved back to present day.
I had trouble keeping track of all of the characters in this story. There were quite a few of them who only showed up occasionally and weren’t described with a lot of detail. This unfortunately meant that they all blended together in my mind, so I kept having to go back and figure out who they were and how Ben knew them. It would have been helpful to either have a smaller cast or for these characters to have something unique about their personalities or appearances to help me remember who was who.
The pacing was strong and steady. I had a hard time taking breaks from reading this book because there was always something new to wonder about no matter how far I got into it. The urge to keep going until I knew why Midwich was chasing Ben and what happened to his town was simply too strong. I will be eager to see what the sequel is like when it comes out!
The Pulse was a heart-pounding read. I’d recommend it to anyone who like a heavy dose of adventure in their science fiction.