I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
I get emails from NetGalley on a semi-regular basis, and often the books don’t strike me. (I think I need to stop telling people I like thrillers, because 90% of all the ones I ever see promoted don’t sound like anything I’d read.) But when an email came out talking about a book called HIGHWAY THIRTEEN TO MANHATTAN, the description sounded interesting. The trouble was that it was a second book, and just from the brief description, this wasn’t something I could just jump into. However, in a lovely and reasonable move, NG was offering galley copies of the first book as well.
Now that I’m at least somewhat caught up with the various books I’m supposed to be reading, I got to sit down with SIX TRAIN. …Holy moses, I wasn’t expecting this.
The books follows a married couple: Kai and Oliver. Kai is a telepath, and a particularly sensitive one. She works with (essentially) child social services, and as they struggle through cases, the emotion of it all eats away at Kai. She’s suicidal, and she’s dragging Oliver down with her. She’s taught him how to block out his mind from the world, how to create walls in his mind to shield both him from her and vice versa…but sometimes it’s only him and his mind that can keep her solid, grounded. But as Kai gets worse, Oliver becomes desperate–and hatches a plan to take Kai somewhere away from the city, somewhere he never expected to go again.
The town where he grew up. And as so many small towns do, this one hides its share of secrets…and these aren’t ones that play nicely with newcomers. Now Oliver isn’t sure coming back was his best decision…but is it already too late?
I’m not sure what I was expecting in this book, but I wasn’t expecting what I got. I wasn’t expecting a book that kept me up at night to read. A book that made me pause car trips home to read. A book I could not stop thinking about…and wasn’t sure about the details until the moment they were revealed. It’s incredibly difficult to surprise me in a book, and while this one didn’t quite surprise me, it kept me second-guessing my decisions. I love it when a book can do that.
Also, I loved the way Kai’s telepathy was portrayed. I could imagine the mental walls, the tiny windows and doors, the crystal egg. I loved the realism in that if she gets smacked in the head, it doesn’t work properly. And I love the level of problems it causes in her marriage. I don’t love Kai and Oliver fighting obviously (because Kai/Oliver forever) but I like that it seems real. These are two people with a lot of baggage and a lot of secrets, and they don’t deal well when it all comes tumbling out. And I like, in that vein, how this book ended. It was realistic and left me clawing at my Kindle for more, in that “how dare you leave me like that; what do you mean the book is over” kind of way.
Caleb (Kai’s brother, and a dreamwalker) annoys the hell out of me. BUT, only when we’re seeing him in Oliver’s eyes. THIS IS GOOD WRITING. Kai loves her brother, and he her. There is a strong bond there and he wants to do what is right by her. Oliver? There is a lot more tension there, and Caleb isn’t always entirely fair to him. (Oliver’s not entirely fair to Caleb, either, so it’s even.) I love Heintz’s ability to do that. Same goes for Oliver’s ex, Mickey. I see her connection to Oliver when he’s telling the story, and I love it. And as soon as I see it in Kai’s eyes, I want to throw her off a cliff. Good, good, good.
I’m happy that I have HIGHWAY THIRTEEN on my Kindle next, because I don’t think I’d do well if it wasn’t already here. (I’m nervous there’s a third book. Is there a third? MORE than three? Oh god my heart.)
When determining whether or not to give a book a 4 or a 5 star rating, if I have a feeling of holding back from the 5 star, but can’t put my finger on it, I’ll bump it up. So while I’d give SIX TRAIN a solid 4.5, since I can’t tell you the exact thing holding it from that elusive 5, it gets rounded up for Goodreads and the like. And I don’t mind doing that at all.
Rating: ****1/2 – Strongly Recommended