cover image The Evolution of Ethan Poe

The Evolution of Ethan Poe

Robin Reardon. Kensington, $15 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-7582-4680-6

In Reardon's fourth novel (after A Question of Manhood), 16-year-old Ethan Poe fancies himself an "outlier" in smalltown Maine because of his goth wardrobe, his relation to the famous Edgar Allan, and his sexuality: he's gay. His best friend Jorja is goth, too, but also a devout Christian. Ethan's parents have just split up, and his older brother, Kyle, has reacted by diving headfirst into religion and, as the novel begins, trying to remove his "offending right hand." As things progress, Ethan hooks up with Max, a handsome classmate, just as his family is thrust into a townwide debate about including intelligent design in the science curriculum. This sparks a polarizing fight between fundamentalists and the secular citizens that turns quickly violent. Reardon's latest is mesmerizing, drawing readers into Ethan from page one, endowing him and all the characters with great depth, and building a slow-burning tension. Science, spirituality, and smalltown life combine for a rare book that will appeal to young adults and adult readers alike. (Aug.)