Refraction

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Pub Date Nov 10 2020 | Archive Date Oct 06 2020

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Description

If Aiden Manchester had to have a superpower, why couldn't it be something useful? Like predicting the future? Or Jedi mind tricks? Instead, Aiden is afflicted with 'manifestations', mysterious balls of goo which materialise mid-air while he sleeps.
But then, Aiden learns he was a 'Quiver Kid', one of seven orphaned children drafted for an illicit experiment at Tau Nine-One. Setting out to find the perpetrators and his fellow victims, Aiden's quest quickly turns lethal when he's kidnapped by a maniacal Quiver Kid with a dark agenda.
As he uncovers the dangerous truth about his past, Aiden's very essence is called into question. Will a hellish confrontation at Tau Nine-One reveal the ultimate purpose of the Quiver Kids?
File Under: Fantasy [ Strangest Things | Manifest Destiny | X-Kids | Chunkie ]
If Aiden Manchester had to have a superpower, why couldn't it be something useful? Like predicting the future? Or Jedi mind tricks? Instead, Aiden is afflicted with 'manifestations', mysterious balls...

Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780857668653
PRICE $15.99 (USD)
PAGES 400

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Average rating from 25 members


Featured Reviews

If I were to use the term “potboiler” for Christopher Hinz’s novel, Refraction (Angry Robot, published on 10 November 2020), that is not to do it a disservice. Quite the opposite, in fact. For a work which contains some known science fictional tropes and new ideas, bound up in the format of a high-octane thriller, I have to say I enjoyed every moment of it.

Opening with an unpromising group of characters – trainspotters, no less (sorry, I meant no offence, I meant of course “rail enthusiasts”) – who get into a spot of bother observing a vintage train and carriages transporting teams to and the Tau One research facility whose purpose is at this point unknown, we move swiftly into thriller territory with armed men on the offensive.

We next jump straight into the main storyline and the lead protagonist, Aiden Manchester, who lives on the edge of society with his sister and niece. Disenfranchised, impoverished and unmotivated, Aiden’s life changes dramatically when he discovers a letter, secured in a safe which only he (unknown to him) can open. A letter from his late father revealing something of his true identity. Aiden, along with a group of other individuals, nicknamed the “quiver kids” was the subject of experiments at the Tau One facility, having been affected in some way by an ancient artefact in the shape of an orb, suspected of being alien in origin. Beyond increasing their IQs the orb developed in each of the children disparate “powers”, some involving the involuntary manifestation which Aiden calls “chunkies”. These are jellylike substances which either do nothing, become weapons or portals to somewhere not of this earth.

In one scene, a former quiver kid, Jessica, manifests a chunky, aimed at an attacker. What happens next is far too close to the facehugger scene in the first “Alien” film, tentacles included, for my personal taste. Jessica is also the subject of an ill-judged, rather voyeuristic ploy to distract the enemy, which basically involves her getting naked. This tactic came across as more of a teenage sexual fantasy than a plausible plot device, sadly. However, those carps aside, I was still able to enjoy the book enormously.

In the final section, we learn the reasons for six children having separate powers, when Aiden is transported into a terrifying otherworld. His journey through the portal (yes, we have seen portal devices before, too), is original and genuinely disturbing.

In conclusion, while I had some reservations about Refraction, I felt it was beautifully paced, crisply written and contained flashes of originality, even brilliance. It’s just begging to be made into a movie – and I would definitely go see it.

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I received a copy of this from NetGalley and Angry Robot, the Publisher, in return for an honest review.

This book had such a unique premise that I instantly wanted to read it upon learning what it was about. Strange powers? Mysterious experiments? An evil person with a similar power? I had the sense it would be something like a really weird comic book. However, as much as I liked parts of it, I felt that other parts took me out of the plot, which made it a long read for me.

First of all, I liked the weird powers. It was very unique and new. It does get old reading about the same old superpowers, so this spin was very much appreciated. Actually, everything about the superpowers I liked. Each "quiver kid" had manifestations that developed differently, so even though they were similar, they weren't the same. I also really liked the characters. The antagonist was sort of obvious in all his moves. It felt sort of like "me. want. power." without any real character development on his part. The MC, however, had a great arc, especially given the fact that the whole book took place over one week.

The thing that took me out of it was the pacing. It would speed ahead in plot then come to almost a standstill where things were explained to me. I know this sounds stereotypical, but I really did want more "show don't tell" throughout. Everything was told to the MC, he didn't really figure anything out on his own. There weren't really flashbacks either, which I think could have been used to the books advantage instead of relying on another character explaining the past.

The ending seemed fast compared to all the buildup. And it sort of just stopped right in the middle if the climax. Right when we are about the figure something out, right when the MC was about to be told something very important, we are thrust out of the setting and to another time. It made it feel somewhat incomplete in my opinion.

Now, these are really just preferences. I know there are a ton of readers out there that love the cat-and-mouse feel of tempos. I just happen to enjoy a quicker pace in my books. Overall, this was a really original story that explored some ideas that I hadn't read about before. I know Hinz has written quite a few books and I do plan on checking some of his other works out. Especially if the ideas behind them seem to be as unique as 'Refraction'.

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Refraction definitely has to become one of the best sci-fi books this year/next year ! It was a fantastic read that drew me in entirely despite it being a pretty long book ! Here's what I thought of it !

First of all, the plot is super interesting. Aiden, who has a lame superpower (producing weird brown blobs out of thin air during his sleep) finds out he was a lab rat when he was a baby, and 6 other kids have also been subjected to the same experiments he was. Soon, Aiden is found by one of those babies, Red, who is set on eliminating the others. Aiden ends up joining a quest to stop Red from accomplishing this deed, discovering more and more about his past in the process.

I loved the fact that we get both thriller and sci-fi in the same book. Seeing Aiden discovering his past, learning about his powers, about the others who have powers etc. is fascinating. I felt invested in the story and in the characters, which is something I'm always looking for in a book !

Every character was unique, had an interesting backstory ! I'm glad they are all put on the spotlight at some point, and that the side characters weren't mere decoration or tools for the hero to use. Shout out to Magenta for being especially amazing ! She might have been my favorite character here ! Everyone is essential to the story, to fit together in one big puzzle we get to discover later on. Fabulous !

Regarding the pace of the book, I would say it's really fast paced. For me, it was both an advantage and an inconvenient, because everything happens so fast it can sometimes be a little hard to follow. It might have been the reason why the ending and the meaning of everyone's powers got a little lost on me. I'm not sure I truly understood the point of the powers and where it's leading everyone. That being said, that rythm also kept me reading at the speed of light, also keeping me on the edge of my seat (my bed actually !) during the whole read.

That last fact is also definitely due to the fact that Christopher Hinz is a great author, who knows how to keep the reader's attention. Congratulations to him for that, I look forward to read some more books by him now !

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Refraction follows Aiden, a man with a strange power - the ability to manifest balls of goo midair while sleeping. Not the most exciting superpowers. After Aiden learns he is one of seven babies used in experiments, he sets out to find the others, discovering dark truths about his abilities and childhood, and the other children used in the experiments.

Refraction is one of those books that uses cliches and tropes and ideas you’ve seen before, but somehow manages to make them feel new and exciting. Babies used in experiments developing superpowers? Murder attempts on them now that they’re older? Mysterious government organizations? Check. Check. Check. Yet, despite it being something a lot of readers will have seen before, Refraction kept me interested, it kept me wanting to know more. Even as I was reading, I didn’t care if it turned into the most predictable story possible, because the writing and characters were interesting and fun enough, I wouldn’t have cared if I guessed every piece of it. There were definitely parts I knew what to expect, and I honestly did not care - I just wanted to keep reading because I just enjoyed the book for what it was.

Some readers might not enjoy it for that reason, because maybe the writing style or pacing won’t mesh with them, but for me it worked so well. The mix of styles, sort of a sci-fi thriller, mystery, had me hooked, and I would definitely recommend it for readers who just want a really fun style thriller and can look past being able to guess a few plot points.

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Refraction was a tricky book but seem to waver between hard science fiction and a more relaxed feeling urban science fiction. I never seemed to fully grasp which way the author was heading, which can be enjoyable when genres are blended well, but this time left me slightly confused as the book veered between the two. Christophers Hinz’s characters are well fleshed and feel authentic to the story he is telling. His action flows well and he isn’t afraid to put his protagonists into dangerous situations that help expound on their character. I’m not sure what I would have changed to make this book more my cup of tea but I will keep my eyes out for more things from Hinz in the future.

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