Most days it's hard enough to get by with only your own thoughts to distract or console you, so for Aden Stone life is quadruple the challenge every single moment. Aden has four individual souls trapped in his head, each with a unique personality and ability. One can time travel, one can raise the dead, still another can predict future deaths (including Aden's own), and the last can possess another body. Talking to the souls in his head has earned Aden the reputation of being mentally unstable, bounced from one mental institution to the next until he eventually ends up at a home meant to help rehabilitate juvenile delinquents.
Aden has always been on his own, with no memory of a family and certainly no friends outside of the souls, wishing for a moment's peace and a sense of belonging with every fiber of his being. When he meets Mary Ann Gray, he's finally granted one of his wishes. She quiets the souls, providing a few moments of blissful silence while in her presence, and Aden feels compelled to find out everything about her and her profound effect on his world.
While Mary Ann brings peace, she also brings an uncanny sense of foreboding; factor that in with the arrival of vampires, werewolves, and a bevy of other supernatural creatures into Aden's small town, and his lonely life is suddenly teeming with both friends and foes. All the new arrivals want Aden, and though he's unclear as to what attracted them, he must find out before he puts his new friend's lives at stake while he races against the clock of his own death premonition.
Ms. Showalter is an absolutely brilliant storyteller. Her characters are never flat nor predictable, never lacking in depth; rather they enfold us in their lives seamlessly, tethering us together through invisible bonds of believable pain and insecurity despite a supernatural setting. The worlds she creates are exquisitely detailed and complex, the nuances depicted beautifully and thoroughly without being so comprehensive as to dull the storyline with excessive descriptive information. It's easy to step into her stories from page one, instantly transported to where she wants us to be as though we fell through the pages themselves, arriving face to face and toe to toe with fascinating characters whose thoughts and emotions we come to know as well as our own.
Intertwined is certainly no exception, brimming with mystery and uncommon characters who defy cliches and inhabit a category all their own. Aden is the classic loner, moved from one place to the next when his abilities and ramblings become too much to manage, left alone as a problem for the state to handle. He has an understandably volatile temper, but his inherent loneliness and drive to find acceptance make him accessible to us as readers as we want to wrap our arms around him and let me know he has at least one friend at his back. Though he exhibits these typical vulnerable bad-boy characteristics, Ms. Showalter imbues him with a fundamental difference in the form of four other souls occupying his body, providing Aden with an unforeseen depth, one that seems to have no bottom but rather will continue to expand in all directions as we venture forth on his journey with him.
In addition to an unusual male lead, we are also presented with an atypical romantic situation. Normally when a story is evenly split between the thoughts and actions of both a male and female protagonist, it seems inevitable a romance will develop between the characters with whom we're most familiar. That is not the case in this story. Instead, we get an entirely new layer as separate love interests, each posing their own unique set of problems for our protagonists, are introduced. Thus, we get to experience not only the joys and challenges of one paranormal relationship, but two, each as intrinsic to the main storyline as the other. One relationship never seems to take precedence, and all four characters are exquisitely balanced even as their individual connections run rampant with tension and passion.
My primary complaint with this story is the complexity of the plot toward the end. We have the main storyline surrounding Aden, his souls, and his overwhelming draw to Mary Ann and the peace she provides, and from the beginning it seems as though this is the mystery we will attempt to unravel. There doesn't appear to be a true villain, just the enigma of the main characters' fundamental existence for us to decipher. With the arrival of Victoria, a vampire princess and Aden's love interest, we are given a pseudo villain in the form of her father as he, like the other supernatural creatures, is interested in Aden and his abilities. However, at the conclusion we are bombarded with secondary and tertiary villains as well as multiple new storylines, each with the potential to be infinitely complicated on it's own let alone when combined with the story already in progress. This seemingly spontaneous introduction of so many new elements after the leisurely pace of Aden and Mary Ann's exploration of their link is a bit disconcerting, leaving us standing at the end of one story but the beginning of multiple new plot pathways not knowing where we will step foot next.
That being said, I have every confidence Ms. Showalter will steadfastly guide us through the second installment, providing us with the information we so desperately need now the world and it's characters are firmly established.