Review: In The Beginning There Was Us by Ingrid Jonach

In The Beginning There Was Us
by Ingrid Jonach

What would you do if you were God? If you had the power to not only give life, but take it away in the blink of an eye? These are the questions that haunt fifteen-year-old Abbey Baxter after she resurrects a boy, long lost to the ages.

The achingly beautiful and eternally melancholy Cole not only serves as a welcome distraction from her long-time crush, Elwin, but also eases the heartache that persists since the sudden passing of her younger brother, Junior, four years earlier.

As the intrigue of her relationship with Cole deepens, so too does the mystery that surrounds a growing phenomenon sweeping through her small West Virginian town, transforming the lives of its residents. Around her, two bedroom cottages are transforming into mansions without explanation and residents are waking up to bank balances that have tripled overnight, all under the watchful gaze of the sinister American Laboratory for Particle Physics, located on the outskirts of town.

As Abbey searches for answers in a bid to solve the mystery in partnership with Elwin, she’s forced into a realization that that some things are better left buried, including her newfound love, Cole.

This cautionary tale of heartache and obsession explores the endless possibilities of the universe and its devastating impact on two young lovers from different worlds.

(cover image and summary lifted from Goodreads)

Series: a companion novel to When the World Was Flat (and we were in love), but can be read as a standalone
Publisher: self-published
Date of Publication: April 28, 2015
Format acquired/Source: I received an e-copy of this book from the blog tour/review opportunity organized by Dianne of Oops I Read A Book Again. This in no way affects my views.
Purchase here: Amazon | Smashwords
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆

My Thoughts:
I started reading this book with a feeling of immense excitement BECAUSE...

I think this is my very first sci-fi YA read! Meanwhile, it's the second book of Ingrid Jonach for her Other World Collection. This collection consists of young adult novels with re-imagined histories and possible scientific explanations for the inexplicable in a contemporary setting. See Ingrid's guest post in the blog HERE where she explained why she loves writing this genre.

Abbey Baxter is a fifteen-year old daughter of a depressed ex-teacher turned housewife mother and a workaholic scientist father. Her father works for a Laboratory in fictional Albert Falls tinkering in a particle that’s seemingly causing some anomalies in their town. Because her parents does not always seem to be around, she always locks herself in her art studio or hangs out with her bestfriend, Mali, whose older brother, Elwin, Abbey has a long-time crush on. But Elwin does not seem to care for Abbey that way. Soon, Abbey found herself inadvertently conjuring through a painting, a handsome boy she named Cole. Cole looks up to Abbey as his god. Abbey on the other hand is smitten by Cole. And thus, started this dangerous relationship and the consequences that came with playing god.

Okay, I will be upfront and honest with my general reaction with the book: it was an okay read for me. My favorite part was the ending because it was brilliantly haunting and unexpected. I also like some funny dialogue sections between Abbey and Mali. And I especially enjoyed Ingrid’s fine writing skills in depicting certain scenes. There are times when she could make something from the pages feel real. One example for me was when the heroine was thrown down the ground and felt myself wincing on the imaginary pain while reading.

One thing that thew me off though was the sluggish development of the story. It’s almost already 60% in with my reading when things started to really pick up. Most parts in the beginning and in the middle are overshadowed by romance and love triangle. Some swoon-loving readers might like this, but it’s just not for me.

Also, I have issues on the believability of some things in this alternate world and history:
  • First example, Europe was wiped out before our story began because a group of OVER A THOUSAND scientists and engineers agree to turn the particle in question into a weapon of mass destruction. Upon reading this, I was like WOAH, that was a lot of unethical and unthinking scientists and engineers over there!
  • Then there was this time when Abbey willed Cole (through her thoughts) to take a vacation in Alaska only to pull him out of there the next minute and have him appear back in Albert Falls to fulfill boyfriend duties. Yes, points for swoon but this is just so physically impossible for me. Shush, Abbey, don’t try to convince me that you have a monopoly of the god particle!
  • Also, Abbey seems to have used up all her time sulking in her art studio, doing part-time job at a bookstore, hanging out, sleeping over and reluctant partying and I wonder, WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL?! Teens in real life spend most of their time in school, right? There sure were sparse mentions of school (that mostly refer to previous school years) but no actual scene in school or actual schoolwork. I’m aware that the town was in lockdown for the most part but it did not say clearly whether school was out or not. And if school was out, should they at least must have a massive amount of take-home schoolworks to do? I might have said “school” way too much, I’m stopping this right here.
All in all, I think some unique-seeking readers will probably love ITBTWU. As for me, despite some of my issues, I am still delighted that I got to check it out BECAUSE YOU, GUYS...

Seriously, this book stirred in me some real newfound curiosity in science (googled lots of jargons while reading) AND raw cravings for more sci-fi reads. So, what sci-fi book should I devour next? Hit me up with your recs in the comments.
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