Drifters, by Kevin Emerson (for this Wednesday’s Timeslip Tuesday)

  • by

Drifters, by Kevin Emerson (May 10, 2022, Walden Pond Press), is a long book (592 pages), but the pages turn quickly, and before I knew it, I’d stayed up till 11:30 finishing it in that lovely reading zone where one forgets one is reading….Had I but known when I took this slot on the book’s blog tour that there was time slipping involved, I’d have asked for a Tuesday (my day for time travel book) but Wednesday is pretty temporally adjacent, so here we are.

The small town of Far Haven is barely hanging on.  There was a nuclear accident a few years ago, and people who could afford to get out did.  Now a large part of its population is the team from the accident remediation and monitoring company (who are very intrusive and increasingly creepy). And for one girl, Jovie, the town became even smaller when her best friend Micah disappeared.  It’s only been a few months, but everyone but Jovie, feeling lost and alone, has forgotten her…

Which they have (except for her parents…who have given up on the search).  

Searching for Micah leads Jovie down a path of every increasing strangeness and mystery.  She meets a very peculaiar boy, Mason, who gives her a spyglass that lets her see the community of lost and forgotten people living on the beach.  They are invisible and untied from ordinary life, drifting toward the pull of a mysterious vortex of light that periodically manifests off the coast, bringing storms and disasters to the town (which like the drifting people, fade from memory….).   When Jovie realizes that Micah has probably become a drifter, she becomes determined to bring her back.

With a new friend Sylvan, a younger and also lonely boy, Jovie starts to uncover the strange and shattering truth about the vortex and its potential to bring disaster not just to her town, but possibly the whole world.  Dodging the workers of the “clean-up” crew, who are determined not to let her get to close to the truth as they know it, trying to figure out what Mason really knows, trying to find clues in the town’s history, she presses on, with the town’s history, pockmarked with disasters, leading her to the remarkable truth.

Here’s where the time slipping-ness comes in–I don’t want to spoil all that is learned when Jovie passes through the vortex, as it is pretty clear quite early on that she will do, but time passes differently there, a few hours equating to several months….This happens very near the end of the story, and though the author could have added another couple of hundred pages about what happens when Jovie comes back (which I would have enjoyed), that’s not the point of the story, and we only get a fairly short epilogue.
It’s a slow build to full on science fiction, but when the sci fi kicks into gear it becomes remarkable! I’d recommend it to  those fans of Margaret Peterson Haddix who have the commitment to read one of her long speculative fiction series to its end.  
I’d also recommend it to those who like stories whose heart is an exploration of what it means to feel lost and drifting through life, especially during adolescence–Jovie and Micah’s friendship had actually turned sour a few months before she was lost, with Jovie feeling stuck and alone and Micah seeming to be pushing fast past their shared childhood (a fairly substantial part of the story is Jovie re-examining their relationship)  Sylvan is pretty alone too, living mostly on-line, and for him, the connection made with Jovie is something of a lifeline out of loneliness. And strange, mysterious Mason has his own grief and disconnections to deal with…. lots of lovely friendship and growing up and figuring out who you are along with all the mystery and strangeness.
It links back to Emerson’s trilogy that begins with the VERY highly recommended Last Day on Mars (my review), which I will now have to re-read to figure out all the connections…but you don’t have to have read those books first. 

Not a book for everyone–like I said, is long, so a bit daunting, and you have to be a fan of slowly unfolding sci fi that keeps stretching further and further from ordinary world.  Which would be me.

About the Author

Kevin Emerson is the author of Last Day on Mars and The Oceans Between Stars, as well as The Fellowship for Alien Detection, the Exile series, the Atlanteans series, the Oliver Nocturne series, and Carlos Is Gonna Get It. Kevin lives with his family in Seattle. You can visit him online at www.kevinemerson.net.


5/9/22 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub

5/10/22 Bluestocking Thinking@bluesockgirl

5/11/22 Charlotte’s Library@charlotteslibrary

5/13/22 Maria’s Mélange @mariaselke

5/16/22 Teachers Who Read @teachers_read

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.