Prelude to Mayhem tells the story of an America (world? one expects so) transformed on May 30, 2004. The result is an unpredictable combination of magic, ultra-tech, dinosaurs, and other strange occurrences. In this world, we find Harrison Cody, loner on the East Coast, who hears a voice on the radio calling him to Chicago. We also meet Dorothy O’Neill, precocious teen for whom the change in the world means not getting to go to high school – and losing her family. Each has a different perspective – from the journey Harrison must undertake to Dorothy’s forting up in a Hallmark store, and making the best of where she is. As the book progresses, Harrison is forced to be a better person, and Dorothy is forced from her shell (or safe place), bringing them both to a huge change in Chicago.
Of course, there is a lot more than that.
The story above is good, but skips over the fact that both characters have to grow and deal with changes that neither wants – good and bad. In the course of the novel, we find that there may be a pattern to the change in the world, and that very, very little is as it seems on the surface. Including the surface.
I tend to like books that bring magic into a modern context, or even a postmodern one. In that regard, there is that annoying taste of magic, without the full exploration that I would have liked better. It may be in a sequel. There is enough to give the reader a taste, but not a full serving. We get a bit more of the ultra-technology than the magic, but again, this is not a story about (or enabled by) some super-high-tech gizmo falling into the hands of 21st century Joe Protagonist. I get the feeling that Aubry has an easier time with the tech than the magic. Perhaps the common need (perceived or real) to develop a universally cohesive system – a metaphysic of magic as it were – is too daunting. Interestingly, the alterations to the world could allow for any system, or many, to coexist. Similar to how some tech is fairly achievable in the near now, while other tech is pure space opera.
The mixing of technology and fantasy is nicely done. Each is internally consistent (even though there seem to be several tech bases in use, each is internally consistent to itself), and is used well. Fantasy elements make sense, and don’t make this feel like a poorly cobbled together mess. Or the product of a committee.
This is a good YA and adult novel, and very much worth picking up.