EW Description: “A taut suspense thriller about a gifted girl and the ancient cult that wants to use her mental abilities for its own sketchy ends.”
Oh, lord. How do I even begin to describe this plot? Okay, it’s part science fiction, part ancient conspiracy theory, and part murder mystery. In the world of this book, a group of doctors put neurotransmitters into people that would control disorders, such as ADHD and seizures. However, these devices made the people go insane and kill either themselves or other people. It also made them geniuses. The main character, Canada Gold, had a neurotransmitter — or “spider” as she likes to call it — put in her brain when she was a child. She is basically the only person that didn’t go insane because of it. Since then, she has become a genius when it comes to counting cards and observing people.
Another key plot point involves The Thousand, an ancient cult that followed Pythagoras. Over time, they devolved into two sects: the acusmatici and the mathematici. The two sects disagreed on how to interpret Pythagoras’ teaching and were at war with each other. Canada’s parents were in the mathematici and now the acusmatici are trying to kill her.
Enter the murder mystery, which has two parts. The first part involves Canada’s father Solomon. When Canada was 13, her dad was on trial for killing his lover Erica, was found innocent, and then was later killed himself. The next involves a string of murders of people who are close to Canada and the framing of another person by the acusmatici.
Confused yet? Welcome to the club. At 337 pages, the book is packed full of story and does move very quickly. It was difficult for me to keep track of all the characters at times, especially when they hadn’t been mentioned in several chapters. I don’t feel Guilfoile did a very good job of really explaining The Thousand and why the two sects were at war with each other. I was largely confused about that entire section of the story.
I feel like Guilfoile is trying hard to write something in the same vein as “The Da Vinci Code” or “Angels and Demons,” but it wasn’t as successful for me. If an author wants to write about an ancient cult, there needs to be lots of exposition, especially if it’s central to the book. Dan Brown exposits forever about the Illuminati and Freemasons in his book, which is helpful to the reader who might not be familiar with it. I feel like Guilfoile definitely expected the readers to already be knowledgeable about The Thousand.
I still enjoyed the book because the other parts of it were very compelling and it kept me guessing right up until the end. Parts of it were just somewhat muddled, however, and it sometimes left me more confused than anything else.