From the cover, one could be forgiven for thinking that Girl Found by Lisa Hall is YA novel about ayoung woman on a voyage of self-discovery. Our heroine is looking at us sassily and challenging us to follow her on her adventure. In fact, the first few chapters does read that way as we enter the world of Ellen Morris, final year student at the University of Pittsburgh. I was quickly immersed in Ellie’s world and much like the citizens of the Republic, led to discover that all is not what it seems here and neither is Ellie.
Not quite dystopian but more science fiction, we learn that Ellie possess an interesting psychic skill I won’t spoil here but allows her to read people. The ability helps her to navigate the Republic in which she and her guardian Davis live. After a series of catastrophic earthquakes, society remains fractured with the Republic seemingly in charge of everything. With Orwellian tones of implants, censorship, restricted travel and NSA agents that resemble the Gestapo, Ellie is desperate to escape for a future in space. It is a future that hinges on a university placement.
However, when Ellie is told that her placement is at the University of Chicago instead of Pittsburgh, it sets off a chain of events that turns Ellie’s world upside down. What follows is a thrill ride, beginning with the revelation that our heroine has a past that puts her on a collision course with the Republic. Forced to run, Ellie is betrayed by the people she cared about and manipulated into following their agenda. In the process, she discovers that the Republic’s iron clad hold of everything is an illusion. Somewhere beyond Pittsburgh is the Syndicate and its hierarchy has a greater personal connection to Ellie than she could possibly imagine.
Once the reveal about Ellie’s past is made, the book became a page turner and I had to get to the end to see how it all turned out. The Syndicate is one of the most interesting creations I’ve seen in a long time and I will enjoy reading the rest of the series to see how it is further developed. The action is well paced with pauses in between to give the reader time to absorb the fine character work Miss Hall does for Ellie, John Boden, Betty Malone and even the slithery Agent Cooper. I would have like to have seen more of Davis, Ellie’s protector and hope that his past is further explored in future books. I also hope that we see John Boden again because his chemistry with Ellie leaps off the page.
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-paced science fiction tale with an engaging heroine who makes us cheer when she comes into her own towards the latter half of the book. I can’t wait to see where Ellie takes us next.