Mary Jennifer Payne embarks on an ambitious and creative project with this first instalment in a series, and nearly accomplishes her aim.
The year is 2030 and our protagonist, Jasmine (Jazz) Guzman, lives in Toronto. Climate change has resulted in an eternal desert-like summer and citizens must wear masks in order to breathe. Jazz, who spends much of her time caring for her ailing mother, is forced to travel halfway across the city to attend Beaconsfield Collegiate after being inexplicably turned away from her local school. This is only the first in a series of strange occurrences.
At Beaconsfield, Jazz notices there are an inordinate number of female twins. The beautiful bully, Mina, seems to have it in for Jazz, while the handsome Raphael, who has mysterious healing powers, knows an awful lot about demons and seers. Then Jazz somehow slips through the “in-between” to where demons dwell, and is swept back in time where she encounters Jade, her twin sister who disappeared years before. Jazz’s powers as a seer awaken, and she sets out to rescue her sister and bring her home.
Finding Jade is a hybrid of genres and tropes: it includes elements of dystopian, paranormal, supernatural, action-adventure, and coming-of-age stories. The book centres on twins and seers, whose increasing numbers are linked to the climate change that has also somehow triggered an influx of demon activity in the in-between. Jazz is the vehicle through which we are told the story, but she is an observer, and we don’t really get to know her as closely as we could. At times, the narrative either lags or moves so quickly it skips over important details. Yet, true page-turning appeal is sparked by action sequences in which the characters show bravery, weakness, and agency while the story moves smoothly forward.
The use of climate change as the axis on which the story turns is well executed, though a little obvious. Still, this is only the first in a series that will hopefully more deeply explore both the unique setting and the intriguing premise.