Chroma: Imogen’s Secret (Volume 1)
Imogen seems to be a normal sixteen-year-old but she is far from normal. She can read auras; she can read thoughts; she can manage people’s perceptions of her by controlling her own aura. Growing up, she learned to hide her gifts, but the arrival of the darkly attractive Araz stirs feelings of danger. With the help of Leo, her trainer, she learns part of the truth and fights to discover who she is and how she fits in to the saga of the empire.
Theme of the Book
Set against an imaginative science fiction background, Imogen’s Secret is a thrilling journey of discovery. As a young woman, Imogen strives to discover the truth about herself and her family, a truth that has been kept hidden from her for many years.
What I Liked About the Story
Aside from the sci-fi aspect of the book, the portrait of Imogen as a teenage girl is excellent. It has all the conflicts, insecurities, fears, and joys of that time of life The scene at Chrissie’s birthday party is particularly well done with the giggles and silliness of teenagers nicely portrayed. Even the underage drinking is typical of the age.
In addition to Imogen’s character, several of the secondary characters are quite interesting and deserve further development in following volumes. These include the triplets Nuru, Sefu and Amsu whose roles in the story seem to be changing as the story continues. Araz, the young ambitious man who searches for Imogen on behalf of the empire is also a complex character whose attitude toward Imogen changes as the story progresses.
There are two aspects to Imogen’s Secret: the story of Imogen herself and her search to find the truth about herself and her family and second, the story told by the “Chonicles of Tanastra Thut” which take place at another time. The main storyline of the book is broken up by excerpts from the “Chronicles of Tanastra Thut”. These chronicles provoke images of time travel, of extraordinary technology, and a far away empire. Although this is a bit confusing at first with the reader simply dropped into the middle of the Chronicles with no background, it does work in the end as the connections between Chronicles and Imogen are revealed gradually.
The first half of Imogen’s Secret is rather slow-moving but the pace certainly picks up in the second half with Imogen fighting for her life. The story races from London to Birmingham, to Paris and New York. There are harrowing chases through tunnels, narrow escapes, and fights to the death. The speed and energy of this second part of the book makes up for the slow movement of the first part.
What I Didn’t Like About the Story
While the main plotline of the ‘Chronicles’ was clear, it was hard to keep the characters separated. Ms. Fleetwood was careful to outline the relationships between the characters from the empire, but I still found it difficult to tell who was who. Fortunately, this did not ruin the story for me but did make it hard to keep straight.
Some readers may find the structure of the novel confusing. The chapters jump from what we must assume is present day (the story of Imogen) to what was the past in the Chronicles. This is a complex structure and one that is difficult for both author and reader, but it is hard to imagine a simpler structure that would have told the story as well.
Like many other independent authors, Ms. Fleetwood has chosen to write a non-ending to this book. I always find it discouraging to discover that a book in a series cannot stand alone.
Despite its complex structure and somewhat confusing cast of characters, Imogen’s Secret is a well-written book. Sci-fi fans should really appreciate it and younger readers will identify with Imogen’s plight. There is science, action and romance enough to satisfy most readers.