Elena Mendoza is called “Mary” at school, because she was the product of a virgin birth and her classmates are cruel idiots. Other than that factoid, her life is fairly routine: a shitty first boyfriend, an unrequited crush on her beautiful classmate Freddie, a deadbeat stepdad and overworked mom, and now a typical teen job at the local Starbucks. Oh wait, except that Elena has also been hearing voices most of her life – voices from random otherwise inanimate logos, toys, and statues. And today, when a classmate enters the cafe and shoots her crush, the voices tell her to heal Freddie — and it turns out she can. For Elena, the voices tell her, is part of a bigger design. A design to save humanity. But of course, it isn’t simple at all. When Elena heals Freddie, the shooter goes up in a beam of light, disappearing before everyone’s eyes. And more go missing the more she heals. Elena doesn’t know what’s best – listen to the voices and heal as many people as she can? That seems like the right thing to do. But what about the people who get raptured as a consequence – whose families are left to suffer their loss? And how does she avoid the people who want to take advantage of her talent – and the people who say it’s all a hoax? And why does Freddie seem to hate her so much after her life was saved? And is this, in fact, the end of the world?
Hutchinson is SUCH a fascinating author, and I loved this book. He does a great job of balancing the every-day conflicts teen Elena has to deal with alongside the giant apocalyptic conflicts that are weighing her down (and this is definitely a theme of his novels). Elena is a very likeable and realistic character and her friends are written very well too. Most of the villains in the story have nuance, reminding the reader and Elena that no decisions she will make in this novel will be easy. Ultimately, it is a novel about free will and the right to choose, and damn I needed it. Good audio performance, too.