This is a very difficult book to review. It's a sequel to Anderson's Ultraviolet, which had some nice twists. Though the cover copy suggests that Quicksilver can be read on its own, it spoils every plot twist in Ultraviolet, starting from the very first page. (I also think it would be pretty difficult to follow without having read Ultraviolet first. In fact, I found some plot points difficult to follow because it had been so long since I had read Ultraviolet.)

They're both good books. But if you have any interest in reading either, start with Ultraviolet and don't even read the premise of Quicksilver - literally everything about it is a spoiler for Ultraviolet.

I am going to do two levels of spoiler cuts. The first level will be spoilery for Ultraviolet, the second for Quicksilver.

This is the book about Tori. Since I went through most of Ultraviolet thinking she was dead, this is a rare case where even the name of the protagonist is a spoiler.

Tori and her parents flee and try to make a new life for themselves under assumed identities. Naturally, trouble follows them.

Tori is my favorite thing about the book. She loves machines and has some unusual hang-ups about people, and her voice is very well-done. She's also asexual (which, as is very carefully explained, has nothing to do with her being an alien). That's nicely portrayed up to a point, though it has some Afterschool Special moments, but I had some problems with how that was handled. Unfortunately, they are completely spoilery.

The pace was a little odd. It felt like not much was happening for a stretch, and then there was a very quick flurry of action sequences interspersed with somewhat confusing technical infodumps about what was going on and why. I got the feeling some of my confusion was due to having forgotten some elements from Ultraviolet.

Sebastian Faraday: still a creep.

Tori's solution also occurred to me, but I didn't think Anderson would actually have her heroine cut off her own hand with a buzz saw. I respect that she went there.

The ending baffled me. After all this discussion about Tori being asexual and how her friendship with Milo is just as important as a romantic relationship would be, they kiss in a sexual/romantic way and she enjoys it.

I honestly have no idea what to make of that. Is it meant to indicate that she's not actually asexual, but just hadn't found the right guy before? Or is she still asexual, but can enjoy sexual activities if they're with someone she's emotionally really into? (If so, how is being asexual different from being one of the many, many sexual people who don't have a high sex drive and only enjoy sex if there's also an emotional connection?) Or is she still asexual and is entering into a sexual relationship to please or not lose Milo?

Whatever that was supposed to indicate, I don't think it worked. It undercut the previous statements that friendship is just as important as romance. And, as my baffled paragraph indicates, it yanked me straight out of an emotional connection with the characters and into a tangle of speculation on the finer points of sexual identity and what exactly the author was getting at.

I thiiiink it was meant to indicate that her sexual identity is still fluid, and that that's okay. Which would be fine, except that putting such a big earlier emphasis on "I'm asexual and that's okay!" rather than "I'm uncertain of my sexual orientation; maybe I'm asexual" makes the ending seem to come out of nowhere.


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