Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

“It never rains in California
But girl, don’t they warn ya
It pours, man, it pours”
Albert Hammond

Mia Price describes herself as a human lightning rod. She will tell you she is a lightning addict, craving its Strike. Her need is the reason her family moved to Los Angeles, a place where it rarely rains and lightning strikes are virtually nonexistent. Mia trades lightning for earthquakes and her life forever. The day the worst natural disaster to occur in the U.S., it pours down rain

The Puente Hills earthquake has struck LA and some people believe it was caused by lightning. Ten square miles, including downtown LA, were destroyed and the city government is on the verge of collapse. The federal government is of no help with too many problems of its own. The Midwest has been battered by drought and wildfires causing food shortages and unseasonal; hurricanes along the Gulf Coast wiped out the fishing industry. Tornadoes have destroyed communities where they don’t normally happen and the US is involved in more conflicts than ever. Humanitarian organizations are stretched too thin with famine in Africa and plague in India. Los Angeles and its residents are left to fend for themselves.

Life has been in constant disruption since the Puente Hills earthquake four weeks prior. For Mia and her younger brother parker, their mother is no help. She was trapped for three days before rescue workers pulled her free, the only survivor. Not badly injured, she was quickly released from the hospital to make room for more life threatening injuries. With no psychiatric care, she spends her days in her darkened bedroom watching Rance Ridley Prophet on television proclaiming that the end of the world is upon us. Suffering from Acute Stress Disorder, Mia has been treating her mother with medications bought off the black market. Parker is distraught over the fact that he cannot fix her, but in order to get free lunch, extra food rations and priority aid, both must start attending school again. This means that their mother will be left alone.

Back at Skyline High School, Mia immediately notices that the Prophet’s student followers are now numerous. She sees white everywhere. While trying to pull herself together in the bathroom, a girl by the name of Rachel Jackson comes in. Before the quake, Rachel was a Goth. Now she is one of Prophet’s followers and tries to convince Mia to join them. Suddenly, a refined girl that Moa doesn’t recognize comes in and tells Rachel to leave Mia alone. Skyline is Seeker territory. Rachel eventually relents and leaves. Katrina introduces herself and goes to shake Mia’s hand. Mia notices a reddish, circular scar on the palm of Katrina’s right hand. They shake and Katrina pulls back quickly. She tells Mia that she has the Spark. Mia is a little unnerved and she doesn’t know what Katrina is talking about. Katrina then pulls out a deck of antique tarot cards and asks Mia to draw one, an invitation of sorts. Mia ends up pulling the Tower card. The Tower was the only building in downtown LA to survive the quake. Katrina grabs the card, reshuffles the deck and has Mia draw again. Once more, Mia pulls the Tower card. Katrina tells her to keep it and to meet her after school in room 317. Mia refuses but Katrina tells her she will see her then.

Mia goes to lunch but doesn’t see Parker. The softball team tries to cut in line but is stopped by a small group of random kids who normally wouldn’t hang out together. Mia recognizes one of them as a friend of Parker’s, Quentin. He tells them to go to the back of the line with the authority of an adult. They obey. Mia also sees that Quentin has the circular scar in the palm of his hand. He tells Mia it is good to see her and goes to shake her hand. She refuses and he briefly grabs her wrist and reacts the same way that Katrina did. Mia leaves the cafeteria to go in search of Parker. She finds him in the hallway were missing person and memorial posters are on display. Parker is depressed that all of his close friends have left the area when he shows Mia earthquake survivors’ group meeting sign that is held in the evenings in room 317. They discuss whether they could get their mother to attend when Mia spies another sign for a lightning strike survivors’ group to meet after the earthquake group in room 317.

Mia’s last class of the day is English lit with Mr. Kale in room 317. She arrives late and Mr. Kale immediately draws her into the discussion on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and how it relates to the Greek myth of Prometheus. Mia gives him a blank stare when a male voice gives the answer. Mia is immediately attracted to him but realizes that something is off about him, just like Katrina. She finds out that his name is Jeremy Parish. In class, Mia keeps looking at Jeremy and he notices. Mr. Kale asks who Prometheus was and Jeremy answers again without being called on. Mr. Kale chastises him and turns the discussion to lightning. Several students bring up the theory that a lightning strike triggered the earthquake. When class ends, Mia is in a hurry to leave before Katrina arrives, but she fails. Katrina joins Mr. Kale and Jeremy comes over to Mia’s desk.

Several things happen at once. Jeremy tells Mia that he needs to talk to her. She tells him to wait as she realizes she senses a storm off in the distance, even though there are no clouds in the sky. Mr. Kale and Katrina are watching the exchanger when Quentin enters the classroom. Jeremy tells Mia that they need to leave and to trust no one. Mia blacks out and dreams of being on the Tower in downtown during a lightning storm where the lightning is red, not white in color. She awakens to find Parker leaning over her and Jeremy gone. Katrina wants to know what he said to her but Mia doesn’t respond. Katrina tells her not to trust him. Mia wants to leave but Parker is willing to them out. Five minutes tops responses Mia and Mr. Kale explains that they are members of the circle of Seekers and are looking for people like Mia. Katrina tells her that they are going to save LA from the Prophet and his followers and then save the world. And Mia is the one to help them.

What happened to Mia’s mother when she was trapped by the earthquake? How did Rance Ridley Prophet correctly protect the earthquake and are his predictions for the end of the world accurate? Was the quake caused by a lightning strike? Who are the Seekers and why do they need Mia? What happened in Arizona that caused Mia’s family to flee to Los Angeles? Why is Mia so addicted to lightning strikes? Who is the mysterious Jeremy? And who can Mia trust when there is a storm brewing on the horizon?

Visit Jennifer Bosworth’s website.

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