This is one of those genre benders that really fits every reader's dream; sci-fi, fantasy, romance, drama, action, suspense, supernatural, folktales, alternate realities, crime and punishment and so much more! There really is something for everyone here, folks! To start off with, you have Gwen, a typical 18 year old enrolling in college for the first time, living at home with her grandparents and trying to get over a past loss of her best friend. She has trust issues, but makes friends on enrollment day with a cute (but not too cute -cause that would be trouble-) art student named Mimic. She starts to have dreams about a red-headed girl in a field that seem way too real, which freaks her out because her mom was a bit of a mental case (this is why she lives with the grandparents). She is concerned enough to write them down in her journal but doesn't want to concern them so doesn't tell them about them.
Then one day, Gwen wakes up in her field of dreams, so to speak, in this other reality she has come to known. Rook, resident of said reality, just happens to be driving by and see her fall at the exact moment, and comes to her rescue, and takes her to the hospital where he is on the way to visit his sister, Raven (who has been in a coma for several years). The two have an instant connection. He comes back to visit Gwen the next day when she is feeling much better (but still very confused because she has no idea where she is and still thinks she must be dreaming), but she is very attracted to Rook and doesn't want him to think she's as crazy as she thinks it would definitly sound, so she tries to act normal and blend in, and the two leave the hospital together. He takes her back to the field where he found her to hopefully spark her memory bank, and it does, she recognizes her house just off the field, or at least, another version of her grandparent's house that she grew up in. When they go to the door, it allows her to enter, and she realizes it is indeed the same home, only different; inside the floorplan is the same but the furniture is entirely different and put about in different ways, confusing Gwen even more. But then her cat, Whinny, runs up to greet her! And the cat IS identical! Orange and white with a crooked tale and cross eyes, just like Gwen's cat back home! Everything in this new world answers one question while seeming to ask so many more!
But Rook vows to stay by her side to help her figure things out, and as Gwen knows nobody else in this new world, that and the fact he centers her and she is so attracted to him (ironic as she always found love foolish), she wants him near her all the time, but fears he will bore of her. Rook worries Gwen will regain her memory or her friends and family will come back around and she will also bore of him. The two are so adorable together I enjoyed reading about them I couldn't flip the pages fast enough, waiting and wanting them to have their first kiss! I also loved the differences of the two societies and cultures; whereas ours enjoys kisses and hand-holding, this alternate universe couples in a more complete way, two soulmates forever, in a way that is uplifting and spiritual and out of this world and their bodies! It was beautiful to read about and even Gwen had to ask after, "Can one get pregnant from what just happened?"
Then there are the scary wardlows, whom one knows nothing about at first but you fear, as they sound like big, hairy beasts out to eat your soul and suck your blood! I won't give away the plot twists on this, but there were many, and I went from being scared of these savage beats to sympathyzing with them by book's end, and you will too. There are always many sides to consider, even the monsters! And Kinder does a great job telling the so-called Monster's side of things. One of my favorite conversations comes near the end of the book from a guard talking about wardlow history and everything he knows about them to be, it was insightful and fills the reader in more on what the population knows and thinks they know about the wardlows; or rather what the TAS and WOTU want them to believe about the wardlows to "keep them safe", so they can keep on doing what they want to do. Kind of like the government.
I can't wait to read the next book in the series and find out more about what happens with Gwen and Rook, and Mimic! A lot of great character development done here. Especially with the scenes, all done so colorfully and well described, it's like being in Pleasantville than going to the planet in Avatar and seeing color for the first time, overhwelming but in the best way! Highly recommended to all!