cover image A Trick of Light

A Trick of Light

Stan Lee and Kat Rosenfield. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-358-11760-5

Fresh and inventive, but fundamentally flat, this cinematic fantasy cowritten with Rosenfield (Inland) contains all the ingenuity fans will expect of the late Stan Lee (1922–2018) but not much depth. Nia, a lonely girl born with a gift for hacking, whose controlling father allows her to interact with the outside world exclusively via social media, meets Cameron Ackerson online. Cameron obtained cyberkinetic powers, the ability to control computers with his mind, after being struck by lightning. The teens decide to use their technical gifts to fight for justice via cyber stunts such as manipulating the livestream of a hateful newscaster to make him appear to sing showtunes . But when Nia discovers a virtual world that may hold the truth behind her sheltered life and a skin-stealing alien begins pursuing Cameron, the pair realizes that they’ve put themselves and the planet in grave danger. The plot moves quickly, and the young characters are sympathetic and modern, if lacking in interiority. Though Lee’s many fans will find plenty here to keep their attention, this narrative would be better served as a movie. Agent: Yfat Reiss Gendell, Foundry Media (Sept.)