The Gemini Connection: Teri Polen
Reviewed by Steve Stred
- Paperback: 227 pages
- Publisher: Black Rose Writing (31 May 2018)
Two humans sharing a connection far beyond what anyone else feels. At least that’s what we’ve always heard, or been led to believe.
Teri Polen takes that idea and runs with it, creating a dystopian future where Benders are employed to enter the minds of scientists – specifically to spark creativity, help find ideas and ward off nightmares.
Evan and Simon are 17-year-old twins, best of friends and living together.
Polen jumps back and forth a bit at the beginning, telling us the back story about how one year ago, Simon mysteriously disappears from his room one night.
Now, Evan, wracked with guilt over not responding to his brother’s shouts, keeps his hopes up that Simon is still out there, still alive.
I really enjoyed this story. It moved at a breakneck pace and Teri deftly weaved a strong narrative around complex human emotions. The additions of Syd, Gabriel, Max and Ky all helped ground the story for me with just how troubled Evan was – how much he was struggling with losing a piece of his identity.
There are some truly emotional moments throughout, I loved how we’d get this great sci-fi based scene of entering into this world through the subconscious, only to then have a dramatic moment and I’d feel so helpless that I couldn’t jump into the action and yell at Evan to stop being a jerk.
As we progress through and more and more layers are revealed, I found the mystery part of the story just as captivating as the relationship plot lines. It didn’t take long until I felt fully invested in the story, but as Evan starts to have glimpses and small connection moments with Simon again, I knew I was fully rooting for things to work out.
For me, this would have been a slam dunk 5 star read if the ending had played out a bit longer. It felt too rushed and not expanded on enough. We get to this major part, things are found and then it just happens. The battle is quick and I felt a bit of an emotional let-down that we made it all of this way, through this journey to then have it end so fast.
That’s not to say the ending isn’t cathartic and doesn’t work – it does both in spades. I just wished it hadn’t felt so smooth and tidy.
This was such a fun read – I think more of a dystopian-YA novel if anything, but the dark was dark and the sci-fi was great. Teri is a great writer and I’ll definitely need to dive into her other stuff!
Teri Polen Q&A with Steve Stred
SS: The Gemini Connection features some characters known as Mindbenders who infiltrate the dreams of scientists. Where did this idea come from?
TP: If I remember correctly, I’d watched Inception and The Matrix around the same time, and my mind starting weaving ideas together. How soon the twins came about, I couldn’t tell you.
SS: Is there plans to expand upon this story/universe?
TP: When I finished The Gemini Connection, I had no plans to continue Evan and Simon’s story. But those twins wouldn’t let go of me, and it took quite a while to move on to writing the next book. So it wouldn’t be a hard no to the possibility of checking back in with them in the future.
SS: Would you rather own a T-Rex and ride it or a Pterodactyl and fly it?
TP: Definitely a pterodactyl. I’d love to fly – it’s always my answer to which superpower I’d want. If it has to be on the back of a winged reptile, I’ll abandon the dream of becoming an Avenger to do it. All I need is a seatbelt.
SS: What’s one of your biggest fears?
TP: Snakes. Absolutely snakes. I once saved a mouse I found in the trash can, and I’ll put spiders outside if I come across any in the house. But snakes have no reason to be here and serve no purpose as far as I’m concerned. A few months ago, a neighbor saw a snake slither into our yard, and I told my husband we were moving. We didn’t, but I avoided walking in the yard for weeks.
SS: Do you have a twin? If so do you have this connection like Evan and Simon? If not – do you know twins that you based this story off of?
TP: I don’t have a twin, and this book isn’t based on any twins I know. For some reason, I became interested in twin connections and did some research. After my beta reader finished the book, she mentioned her mom was a twin and had an unusual connection with her twin sister. They lived in different states, but would buy the same clothes, call each other at the same time, and feel each other’s pains. Not as extraordinary a connection as Evan and Simon’s, but it was still pretty cool.
SS: What are you working on next?
TP: My next book is also a YA sci-fi/fantasy, Subject A36. It’s the first of a duology, The Colony Series, scheduled for publication February 13th, 2020. I just received my copies over the weekend, so I’ll be doing an ARC giveaway pretty soon – check on my social media to enter!
The Gemini Connection
Planet Tage is dying, and the best hope of saving it is gone.
Seventeen-year-old identical twins Evan and Simon share an extraordinary bond, a trait that’s both useful and invasive. They use their connection in their work at Scientific Innovations. Evan is a Mindbender, someone who enters the minds of scientists to spark ideas, join thoughts, and battle nightmares. Simon is a science prodigy and Tage’s best chance of survival.
Unfortunately, their unusual link often bleeds into their private lives. When Evan discovers his brother is keeping a secret from him, he lashes out and ignores requests to talk, and even pleas for help. By the time Evan tunes back in, he finds their connection severed and Simon missing.
He suffers a terrible case of survivor’s guilt. Moreover, he’s desperate. The fate of the world rests on Simon’s return, and Evan is willing to do anything to get him back—even working with his greatest rival, who also happens to be Simon’s boyfriend.
Evan finds allies among enemies and adversaries among friends. When nothing is as it seems and everything is depending on him, he must explore a dangerous aspect to his twin connection he never knew he had.
If he fails, he’ll lose both his brother and his world.
Steve Stred writes dark, bleak horror fiction.
Steve is the author of the novels Invisible & The Stranger, the novellas The Girl Who Hid in the Trees, Wagon Buddy, Yuri and Jane: the 816 Chronicles and two collections of short stories; Frostbitten: 12 Hymns of Misery and Left Hand Path: 13 More Tales of Black Magick, and the dark poetry collection Dim the Sun.
On September 1st, 2019 his second collection of dark poetry and drabbles called The Night Crawls In will arrive. This release was specifically created to help fund the 1st Annual LOHF Writers Grant.
Steve is also a voracious reader, reviewing everything he reads and submitting the majority of his reviews to be featured on Kendall Reviews.
Steve Stred is based in Edmonton, AB, Canada and lives with his wife, his son and their dog OJ.
You can follow Steve on Twitter @stevestred
You can visit Steve’s Official website here