by Steve Cash
Category: Fiction / Fantasy
416 pages; ISBN: 0345470923
Rating: 9/10 (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner
Del Rey, Feb 2005, $13.95, 416 pp.
In 1881, Zianno Zezen celebrates his twelfth birthday "for the first time" on a train with Momma and Papa heading from St. Louis to Central City just above Denver. Momma tells Zianno that the three of them are different then anyone else on the crowed train filled with ordinary Giza humans. Before she can explain further about being a Meq, the train derails killing everyone on board except Zianno.
Jewish trader Solomon Birnbaum nurtures the injured Z, but is stunned by how fast the preteen heals. Solomon believes that Z might be a member of a legendary ancient race that he thought was mythical. He returns Z to St. Louis where the lad meets other Meqs and learns how his people stop aging at twelve until they find their Ameq soulmate. A Meq can choose to age and die like Giza. Z befriends Gizas and soon wonders if he is the last born as he has met no one “younger” than him. Could this mean the Meq Remembering has begun; some believe so and try to halt it.
This engaging fantasy grips the audience due to the Meq, who interestingly repeat their twelfth birthday yet remain child-like in spite of experiences; this makes individual Meqs hard to delineate one from another. The story line is told from the first person account of Z, which adds a feel of detachment rather than emotion to the plot; yet also serves as a mechanism to display the blasé attitude towards immortality and the acceptance of those who chose mortality. Much of the action will happen in the sequels, but fans will enjoy this introduction to the near immortal race that walks amongst us.
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