Gabe Hearst has an unusual kind of...synesthesia? Well, actually there is no real case of a synesthete being able to detect lies, but when Gabe hears a lie, he tastes rust. And gets severe headaches. Since the common social lies (yeah, your hair looks great--love that outfit--no, your butt doesn't look big) and more serious lies of all kinds abound, Gabe's life is pretty uncomfortable. High school is a misery for him: in the halls, the lunch room, and worst of all for Gabe, in his history class.
The result is that Gabe is a loner who doesn't like to communicate with his peers because it becomes painful. Not only does Gabe recognize lies, but when he is lied to, he becomes aware of further information revealing the liar's thoughts. He is aware of the lie, and the thoughts behind it. Not a pleasant talent to have.
Jessa is the Queen Bee of Galton High School. She has cultivated an image as the princess of fluff and style; she is concerned with her appearance and her status; and currently, she has set her sights on gaining Gabe's brother Watts as a boyfriend. But Jessa, too, has abilities that she hides. She is a physical powerhouse hiding behind the image of superficiality.
When Gabe's brother Watts disappears, Gabe is secretly delighted because Watts is petty and mean-spirited, going out of his way to denigrate and humiliate Gabe at every opportunity. Jessa, on the other hand, wants her prospective boyfriend back, and recruits a reluctant Gabe in the search for Watts.
What the two discover about each other and their abilities and about the source of their abilities puts both of them in danger. Their search for Watts reveals information that frightens and angers them.
I enjoyed the fast pace of this book. Gabe and Jessa each have strengths and flaws, but they form a good team.
The young protagonists are engaging as they unite their distinctive skills to fight the villain and his dastardly plans. Deacon, the villain, remains more of a comic book character and his network has a sketchy feel.
Although there is a final wrapping up of the plot, a sequel seems obvious. A quick, suspenseful read.
NetGalley/7 Sparks Press
Mystery/Speculative Fiction/YA. 2014. Print length: 243 pages.