Book Review: The Rising by Heather Graham and Jon Land

I decided to read this book because it was co-written by two wonderful, friendly people whom I had the pleasure of meeting last year at ThrillerFest. What do you get when two amazing bestselling authors put their heads together? A freaking fantastic book that grabs you and holds on right up until the very end.

"The Rising" by Heather Graham and Jon Land is a gripping thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It took me around a week to read it, but every time I put it down, I couldn’t wait until I had time to pick it up again and read some more. It’s full of questions and the mystery keeps driving the story forward. I just had to keep reading. I had to know what the hell this was all about.

The opening makes for a good attention grabber. This story is being relayed by an outside observer, but the story must be told. Hmm…how intriguing. Please, continue.

High school football star and all-American boy, Alex Chin, finds himself in a hot mess when he’s injured on the field. Surely, his spine is broken and yet, within hours, he’s able to move around just fine and walk. What? The doctors think it must have just been a concussion that left him stunned, so…CT scan. But it looks strange. Time to do another one! Then, this seemingly normal kid blows up the CT scanner. Unintentionally. With his mind.

Concurrently, we’re also tagging along with Samantha, Alex’s tutor and his girlfriend’s “friend”—though really she’s just the smart girl who does the cheerleader squad’s homework and helps them cheat on tests. Sam has a crush on Alex, an internship at NASA, and a valuable discovery on her iPad that she can’t wait to share with NASA. Until her iPad gets stolen while Alex is busy getting injured on the football field. The dude that takes it smells like a car engine that is overheating, but he’s wearing a suit and looks crisply clean. Could it be one of the fabled men in black?

The plot thickens further when Sam walks in on Alex’s parents dying after an attack in their home from other strange men that also smell like overheating machines. She’s now trapped in this web of mystery and strange technology. She can’t walk away, can’t leave Alex on his own to fight off these weird creations that are trying to take him away. She feels that she must help this dense jock figure out WTF is happening to him.

As we move further into the book, we get more and more perspectives. Each one is timed perfectly, revealing only what it must in order to pique our interest again, to wrap us further into the story, and to blossom even more questions. Is this alien stuff? Is Alex from the future? Another dimension? Is he even human? Or possibly some super advanced evolution of man that incorporates technology somehow? Seriously—I don’t even know. With thrillers, I like to start my review mid-book, so as I’m writing this part, I have no idea how it ends. But I can’t wait to find out!

I do already know, though, that I love this book. It is something I’d recommend to anyone who likes a good thriller, The X-Files, or a supernatural suspense novel.

Aside from the great storytelling style they use, there are fantastic details about the various characters. Each one is their own person, with their own motivations for being involved in either the pursuit or the saving of Alex. They are not flat, but they are well represented for their own uniqueness. I love that there’s a little background for each person to help us understand their motivations.

There’s even one guy with synesthesia—he associated smells with colors. I love this. It tickles me pink when various forms of synesthesia are represented in entertainment.

Of course, I won’t ruin the ending now that I’ve finished it. But holy shit…I never saw it coming. Call me leaves in the wind because I am just blown away.