Neither Here Nor There by Nikki Harmon is a near future science fiction novel with a bit of action, a bit of mystery and a heavy focus on the choices we make and their ramifications both for us and for those we come into contact with.
Kim is a young, black, gay, sometimes rebellious, self-professed nerd. She is a biophysics major who still lives at home with her family and spends her time focusing on science fiction and space. Kim works and studies hard because she has serious goals; one day she will work for NASA and ultimately, she will go to Mars. But for now, she must get through her classes and complete her mundane work study with Dr. Patel.
Her world is turned upside down one day when she experiences an odd occurrence which enables her to see alternate choices. If she really focuses, she can visualize herself choosing different options in a given scenario. She can jump timelines and experiences some different possible trajectories of her life. But before she can wrap her head around her new-found powers, Kim is abducted and held prisoner. In her captivity she quickly discovers her powers didn’t occur naturally and that she was actually the subject of the work study she performed for Dr. Patel.
And she isn’t alone. There are other subjects who also have this power and have been trained to harness it. Forced to use the power bestowed upon them by their benefactors for sinister purposes, they are trying to finally set things right. And they need Kim’s help. They must band together if they are to prevent these people from altering the past to control the future.
Kim is such a complex, multidimensional and dynamic character that evolves continuously throughout the book. She is very real and relatable. Her relationships with her family, friends and lovers, her concerns and her dreams are so engaging. I enjoyed sharing in her struggles as she wrestles over different choices which range from the mundane to extremely significant life choices. And it is so interesting to see the different sides of her emerge in different scenarios throughout the story.
The Writing Style
The story is written in the first person from Kim’s perspective and begins focusing on her character, her relationships and dreams. It makes the pacing a little slower at first, but it is really fabulous character work and well worth it. I really enjoyed the detailed look into her life and the glimpses into her thoughts and feelings especially surrounding her different relationships. And the pacing does pick up when the action begins. It is exciting and will take you through some interesting twists and turns.
Our lives are full of choices and I really loved how this book demonstrates their significance. How our choices impact not only our lives, but the lives of those around us and how our own selves are impacted by the choices of others. This is an extremely interesting look at causality and identity and I just can’t extol the character work enough.
The format of the copy I received was a bit wonky, which made it a little difficult to read but I am sure this will be rectified for the final copy.
There is a scene where Kim professes her attraction to a female classmate and that classmate proceeds to gather a bunch of male friends who trap Kim, pin her down and are about to rape her. It is prevented by a friend however, it could be a triggering scene to read.
If you are looking for intricate character work, an authentic exploration of identity, interpersonal relationships, and causality wrapped in an interesting and twisty science fiction story, then you should definitely check this book out.
Excerpt from Neither Here Nor There by Nikki Harmon
She was Amira until 7th grade, when she cut her hair, took up basketball, gave up wearing anything “girly” and challenged anybody to say anything to her. She went full-fledged hard-core dyke in 10th grade but by then, everybody knew and accepted her and nobody much cared. I also came out in high school, though, I did it in dribs and drabs, parsing out my secrets to a few close friends who I trusted and to the one girl I liked. And that didn’t go well. In my mind, Amira and I have always had a complicated relationship, even though we were not friends. She was tall, loud, funny, and bold, while I, though a rebel in my own mind, kept myself amused with academics, science fiction and sarcasm. We didn’t have much in common, but I was always curious about her.
Meer. She’s creeping down the street, her neck craning around. A weird hum starts in the back of my skull, like an overloaded electrical circuit. I give a shake to clear it, but then my vision starts to blur. I blink and squint to try and focus, but it feels like time has slowed down, the world feels underwater, but I am buzzing with energy. When I tilt my head left, I have a vision of myself flagging her down, walking up to the car and saying, “Hey Meer!” When I tilt my head right, I get a glimpse of myself turning back to the door, inserting the key, and continuing into the house. When the car reaches my house, I decide to raise my hand and take a step down the stoop. She notices me. The buzzing and blurring recede as I exhale and focus on her. She rolls to a stop as I walk down the steps towards her. I glance back up at the front door and see a brief outline of where I used to be, a shimmer, a wink of light, and then nothing.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9780996537346
Publisher: Indie author / Mt. Airy Girl Press
Nikki Harmon Online
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