Friday, November 19, 2021

Very Short Book Reviews: Children of the Secret Laboratory

Refraction, by Christopher Hinz (Angry Robot)

A generation ago, a handful of babies in a secret laboratory were exposed to a mysterious, possibly extraterrestrial material and then placed with normal families and observed. Aiden Manchester is one such child, now grown. He’s ignorant of his origins but beset by an uncontrollable and rather disgusting talent for manifesting piles of sticky brown goo when he sleeps. His otherwise placid life is upended by the search for the other children, as well as the scientists that experimented on them, a search that quickly twists the story into a thriller when he’s kidnapped by one of the other kids. That one is a homicidal psychopath, by the way, bent on eliminating all the others, who each have a unique gift and piece of the puzzle.

Aiden makes allies of varying degrees of ferociousness and competence along the way, although their goals are never precisely aligned with his. This is a refreshing change from the common “fellowship” quests, where everyone wants the same thing and always acts in unison. I honestly did not see where the story was headed. It’s a wild ride with a likeable hero who in the end uses his wits and insight against villainous treachery. For me that’s a sure formula for success!

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