3.5 at times
Sequel to Chimera. The brothers have been on the run for three years, free from the mob and the Institute, first in Bolivia and now in a small town in the Pacific northwest. Michael is your average teen working at the local coffee-shop. Stefan a painter and jack-of-all-trades. Life is good. they have a home. Stefan is content. Michael is working to find a cure for the others so they can be freed. They had Saul track down the new location and they are just waiting for a break-through.
Then Stefan and Michael's father, Anotoly, is murdered and everything spirals out of control as their pasts catch up to them.
Genius might be described as a supreme capacity for getting its possessors into trouble of all kinds. ~ Samuel Butler (1835 - 1902)
Fantasy abandoned by reason creates impossible monsters... ~ Francisco Goya 1799
Impeccable opening. Transitioning from Stefan to Michael in a situation that guaranteed my interest to see what would happen next. I also like to think that because of Michael's psychic healing/killing abilities, in that moment when he healed Stefan and all those thoughts were running through his head, they were transferred to Stefan and so Stefan knows what Misha thinks of him. Knows without doubt that he had done the right things for Misha.
For continuity, though, I wish Michael's thoughts matched precisely with his thoughts when Stefan dies later in the book. Only part of it is there.
Misha is an unreliable narrator because he knows that he is not Lucas but refers to himself as Lucas and talks about not being able to remember, etc., when he knows he never could remember and never could have. They are not biologically brothers. I just don't understand why that issue was not addressed earlier in the narrative.
But more than that, there was Stefan. He was overprotective and called me kid, but he was my brother - mine - and I sort of loved him. Not that I'd say that. You couldn't just go and say things like that aloud. Tv said so. Movies said so. General guy culture said so - I'd learned that from close conversation. Everything said so.Almost three years with him and the possibility of losing him said so.
Funny the things you don't want to say and tempt fate, the things you don't want to admit to yourself, no matter how often you think them. We were free and alive now, but that might not always be true.
p. 232 -234
Michael uses his genetic abilities on Stefan - a huge violation of their trust in one another. It was wrong and careless. He put Stefan to sleep, trying to let him rest but it resulted in Misha getting shot in the head when he goes outside without Stefan."When you went outside without me."
"You were asleep. You needed the rest," I pointed out.
"Without me. What did you do, Michael?"
There was no Misha now. He knew what I'd done....
"I would've woken up when you opened that door. After the mob, after what you and I lived through before, I would've woken up and we both know it."
I'd disappointed him. There hadn't been a time Stefan had been disappointed in me until now...
I walked in silence behind him. I had issues. Anyone raised at the Institute would, but I hadn't felt this worthless and guilt in my life. He was the sole family I had and I'd let him down.
p.90In the beginning, when he'd rescued me, taught me how to live in the real world, taught me... everything, he was nothing but patient. He was the most patient, protective ex-mobster you could find, because he knew how damaged I was, which I think might have been only marginally more damaged than he was from guilt and despair. Not once in almost two years did he ever snap or lose his temper with me, even if I deserved it - especially if I deserved it.. But after two years, he went from treating me as a phantom brother who would disappear at any moment and started treating me like a real brother. It turned out I liked that. After two years, I wanted to be given a verbal ass-kicking when I deserved it, I wanted to pay off the half-blown-up garage, etc. I wanted all of that. Why? Because that meant no matter how annoying I was and how quickly Stefan would make sure I paid the price, he always had my back. He protected me from anyone and anything. Blood is thicker than delinquent behavior. And while that wasn't one hundred percent correct (not actually related), I took it. Good, bad, and all that came between, Stefan would always be my brother, my family, and that was something. That was really something.
I'd finally found that different kind of truth - a lie that wasn't a lie at all. Stefan knew I wasn't Lukas, but he knew I was his brother, the same as I knew that he was mine, that being brothers had nothing to do with sharing the same blood. He wouldn't ever tell me about Lukas and he would hope I'd never find out. He wouldn't risk that I'd again feel those doubts that I had following my rescue or that I would think he considered me any less of the brother he'd been born with. That was Stefan. And that was fine. That was better than fine. Some things didn't have to be said aloud.