The Girl Who Can Move Sh*t With Her Mind by Jackson Ford
I would like to thank Nazia for an advance copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review
Publisher – Titan
Published – Out Now
Price - £8.88 paperback
For Teagan Frost Sh*t just got real
Teagan Frost is having a hard time keeping it together. Sure, she’s got telekinetic powers – a skill that the government is all too happy to make use of, sending her on secret break-in missions that no ordinary human could carry out. But all she really wants to do is kick back, have a beer and pretend she’s normal for once.
But then a body turns up at the site of her last job – murdered in a way that only someone like Teagan could have pulled off. She’s got twenty-four hours to clear her name. And if she isn’t able to unravel the conspiracy, then the city of Los Angeles may be ripped apart…
Superpowers and books are an interesting mix. The action sequences are much harder on a page rather than within a film scene or an illustrated page but what a novel can do is give you character and possibly a bit more emotional depth than its siblings. They often tend to the more psychological for example Stephen King’s The Shining or Claire North’s Touch. In this novel Jackson Ford has created a new character in the form of Teagan Frost a very unusual lead who doesn’t quite fit into the hero mould. Despite her reluctant nature this story still delivers a frenetic and surprisingly more emotional books than you’d be originally expecting.
Teagan Frost when we first meet this sarcastic twenty-something she is falling out of a skyscraper. She is our sarcastic, dry and often annoyed narrator who quickly rewinds and explains how she got into this situation. Teagan is part of a deep undercover government agency that uses her powers plus an unusual assortment of skilled experts to take down or spy upon potential enemies of the US. Unfortunately, the group has been rumbled and Teagan’s desire to help balanced with her desire never to listen to anyone else leads to a fall out of a skyscraper. On top of this their target is later found dead and it points towards telekinesis being used as the murder weapon. Suspected by her co-workers Teagan has a 22-hour deadline to clear her name or she will find herself back in an underground complex being experimented upon until she dies.
The thing that grabbed me the most about this novel is the sheer amount of kinetic energy it rolls with (appropriate for a story about objects moving of their own accord). Ford is telling a relatively tight story that the main arc focuses on a single day in Teagan’s life. Each chapter tends to end in some form of actual or emotional explosion. A bit like Teagan we are being pulled in the story’s wake and as the day goes on, we see Tegan flagging and then having to dig into her reserves and the stakes in an LA on the edge of a huge fire are getting higher and more personal. It really adds to the thriller’s atmosphere and as the story unfolds the scenes feel tenser. This is also helped by several interludes where we meet Teagan’s mysterious nemesis who is working on his own mission with a deadline to achieve a violent agenda. We realise that this character has powers that probably can beat Teagan on the day and also inevitably these two characters are heading for a fight. It’s unclear how Teagan can win and that adds an uneasy level of doubt to the story.
The other main benefit is Ford’s ear for character. Teagan being our main narrator will be the key to whether you will enjoy the book. She is snarky, sarcastic and particularly when we first meet her a bit of a pain in the proverbial. Rude to her co-workers on the team; possibly always looking to show off and not really a planner she can be seen as unsympathetic but what I liked about her narration was that as we are inside her inner voice we see both her bravado and yet also her doubts and hints towards events in her life she won’t want to talk about. Teagan is not a driven skilled agent she was coerced after some fairly brutal events in her life to go undercover so actually as we find out more about her we understand why this persona has grown in this way but we also see her secret dreams of being a chef; her desire for a normal relationship and eventually realise that in many ways she’s a much more braver individual for taking the choices she has. By the end of the book I understood Teagan Frost and while I suspect working with her would be awful, I respected her.
Interestingly Teagan’s team also shows a greater level of depth than Teagan suspects. Be it Carlos her driver and best friend; Annie a former criminal now specialist at infiltration, Reggie a quadriplegic fighter pilot turned hacker and her erstwhile manager Paul who goes by the book and finds Celine Dion songs helpful. As the story develops, we get to know this team and as they find out a lot more about each other watching their relationships change is fascinating. They’re a great collection who can add as quasi-enemies and friends for Teagan, but the dynamic is never settled.
Overall, I found this a brilliant racing thriller through an LA that is about to go on fire. It delivers a fast-paced thriller mixed with superhero origin story with a delicious cast of characters that you will really understand (whether their motive be for good or ill). That emotional investment was much more appreciated than simply a wonderful snarky narrator who tells a good tale and gives me that extra hook to devour the story. This feels a very accomplished start to what could be a very intriguing series. If you enjoy a mix of heists, spies and super heroics then this is definitely a story you need to read. It’s the good sh*t.