by S.M. Johnston
Title: Sleeper (Book I in the Toy Soldiers series)
Author: S. M. Johnston
Release Date: December 2, 2013
Publisher: Entranced Publishing, Rush
Genre: Upper YA/NA speculative fiction
Blurb: A new heart should mean new life, not a living nightmare.
Mishca Richardson’s life is at an all-time high after her heart transplant. With new boyfriend, Ryder, the two of them have the perfect summer romance. Even the nightmares that have been plaguing her sleep since her operation can’t dull the high she’s on.
Things start to unravel as Mishca develops superhuman abilities. She does her best to hide them so as not to end up a science experiment in a lab. But she can’t ignore the instant attraction she experiences when she meets her university professor, Colin Reed.
Torn between the blossoming love and the obsession, Mishca must decide if she wants Ryder or Colin. But the organization responsible for her changes and her connection to Colin, is moving to secure Mishca for himself so that she can be the weapon he always intended her to be. If Mishca can’t resist her programming she’ll have a lot more to worry about than romance.
We drive in silence. I’m consumed by a nagging feeling that I’ve done something wrong. I replay the night over and over in my head, at times substituting Sophitia for me—I bet she would have kept the party going.
I want to scream.
When we finally pull up, Ryder turns to me. “I am so sorry. I do not want you to be scared off. I really like you, Mishca.”
“I really like you too, Ryder.” It feels so good to say his name. I shift uncomfortably in my seat. It’s D-day and I know it.
“There is something I should tell you. Well, two things actually.”
Okay, easy one first. “I am not very, oh, how do I put this…experienced. Before this it was just kissing. Which leads me to the next thing.”
I can see Ryder’s mind racing. No words come, so I decide to show him. Hastily, I pull my top over my head and sit before him in my skirt with my scar and bra. The shocked look on Ryder’s face is compounded when a firm hand opens the driver’s side door and pulls him from the car.
“Get. Your. Hands. Off. My. Daughter.”
I race out, grappling with my top, and continue around the car to pull Dad off Ryder, who is cringing away from the clenched fist above him. At first, I scream incoherently at my father, even though Dad has opted to throw my date to the ground instead of pummeling him. Then I look pleadingly at Mum, who has also appeared from nowhere.
“Make yourself decent.” Dad spits the words at me.
“He didn’t touch me, Dad! I was showing him my scar.”
Dad, brought up short, glares. Mum reaches out and puts a hand on his shoulder.
“She’s serious, Tom. Come inside.”
Dad spins around and stomps into the house. Mum follows him with an apologetic look.
I look at Ryder ruefully. “I’m so sorry about Dad. I thought it would be easier to show you my scar than explain.”
“Scar?” says Ryder straight-faced. “What scar? I only saw a pair of beautiful breasts.”
I hit him with my handbag. He laughs for a moment, until I hit him again. Once I’m satisfied he’s suffered enough for the “breasts” comment, I hand him an unused, but scrunched-up tissue from my clutch to clean his face where it connected with the ground.
“So,” Ryder begins tentatively, his eyes flicking skywards for a moment, “were you in an accident?”
I indicate that’s a “no” and I can immediately see the curiosity rising in his eyes. “A heart transplant.”
“Really? Sorry that was not…um…okay…wow…when?”
I give him the abridged version, hoping that he isn’t going to be scared away. The last thing I want is to be put back in the fragile box.
“Ahhh dang,” Ryder says at last. “Now that scar I got on my butt loses the number one ‘scar story’ spot. ”That cheeky grin is back. “But I guess seeing as we are sharing war stories …” He begins to unbuckle his belt.
I quickly stand in front of him and place my hands atop his to prevent further belt removal. He takes advantage and brushes his lips gently against mine, and then saunters to his car. “I’ll call you. Just let me know when it’s safe to show my face around here again.”
4 out of 5 Stars
Intriguing Twist In This Plot
Mishca Richardson have been walking on egg shells all her life. With a defective heart, she prays for a miracle and try to brave her world. When that miracle finally comes, a new life with new trails comes with it.
She meets Ryder who catches her attention immediately. Soon she falls head over heels for him, and life is good. Really good. Well except for a few little problems, like super human abilities that sort of make her life a little more epic. Every night since her heart transplant she’s have been having really bad dreams, thought to be from the medication she had to take. She pushes it aside and try to live her life. But when Colin comes into her life, he starts a ride she can’t get off and soon discovers the real truth behind her life and her origins.
Mischa grows up uncertain of life and because of this her steps at first are small, but as she progress into her new life her character grows with all the things being slowly exposed to her. Near the end, you start seeing a girl sick of being a freak and ready to stand up and fight back.
Ryder was the dazzling hero, sweeping in to rescue her and give her a happily ever after, or so he thought. I have to say his character wiggled its way into my heart pretty quick. I just love the hero type. When Colin steps into the plot I was pretty pissed and really not happy at all, but the more you read the more you understand each character. Although there is still much I would like to learn about Ryder.
At first it was hard to really dig into this one. I was riding from intrigued to bored and back again. As Mishca’s life unfolds, you start picking up on a few things that has you raising an eyebrow. It was near the end that the plot turns hectic and you are blown away with what really is going on with this girl. But the plot also have a few other interesting things that I hope will be revealed with the next one. I was really impressed with the turn of this plot, I wasn’t really expecting such a turn, and it was pretty awesome. All in all, the story was intriguing and left me curios with what would be happening next in this girl’s life.
Sharon is a writer from Mackay in Queensland, Australia who has short stories published in anthologies and was also runner-up in the Australian Literary Review's Young Adult short story contest with KARMA. By day she is a public relations executive and by night she writes weird fiction and soulful contemporaries while her husband, two sons and cat are fast asleep.
Goodreads Sleeper Page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17837453-sleeper