"Altered State," by Gregg Luke, 2009, Covenant
Communications, 272 pages, $15.95
"Saturday, September 5 ... today it seemed different.
Although everything looked the same, the area now felt as menacing as a steel
trap poised to spring with bone crushing force. He shook his head at the silly
premonition and headed under the tree anyway."
This is where Peter Stokes comes to relax and read his
Today the magpies are louder and more obnoxious than usual,
and Peter is trying to ignore the whole lot of them. After reading for a while,
Peter feels like he wakes up from a light doze to find his Book of Mormon torn
in half and no memory of how it happened.
"Altered State" takes place at Utah State
University in Logan, Utah. The details of the campus layout are accurate, and
author Gregg Luke brings the setting to life.
Homer Winegar is a number analyst at Wasatch BioChemical. On
Monday, Sept. 21, he is busy paying the bills and isn't happy, trying to make
the money stretch. While Homer wishes he could go back to his old job, son
Zachary listens to music.
Zachary has Asperger's syndrome and is extremely talented
with music. He is able to pick out beat, time, key and the underlying rhythm and
instruments. He knows composers and titles and is able to tell who the
conductor is. Zachary is all about music.
While life goes on in Logan, something unethical and highly
illegal is going on at Scandia Labs. It is all very cryptic and only two
individuals know what is going on in "a small town up north." Life in
Logan is about to get off the road and take a turn for the worse.
While at school in early October, Zachary is fascinated by a
song he hears on the radio. He calls it the "Whisper Song." Shortly
thereafter, students on campus start gathering around different statues on
campus. They become non-responsive to those around them and don't react in any
way to outside stimulus.
Morgan Winegar teaches psychology at USU and wants to get to
the bottom of what is causing so many students to act out of character. As
winter approaches, the number of students involved with each gathering
multiplies and acts of violence increase. The episodes are becoming stranger
and more disturbing.
As Morgan, Homer and others work together, it is apparent
that something disastrous is about to happen. As they race against the clock,
Morgan has an experience that threatens to blow her world apart. Zachary helps
to find the "Whisper Song," and Homer is faced with a very difficult decision
that should have been made years ago.
I agree with Aaron Jones' quote on the book: "Inescapably
compelling, medically accurate and disturbingly plausible."
I had a hard time putting this book down. The story flies,
and the characters interact well with each other and bring greater depth to the
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