"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 scriptures.
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 story.