In an interesting twist on an alternate reality, Dale R. Cozort has brought us a rip in the continuum that occurs on different levels of time and place. It is being charted by the government and they are now getting closer to being able to plot the times and places these occur. A wide rift occurs in the area, which then relocates the portion of the earth in that rift to an alternate universe for a period. All people that are still within that area are then shifted as well. Preparing for the rift becomes a structured action, and many of the people are relocated to a safe area. In order to save the others there is a military presence brought in and a group of volunteers to help keep the area safe and secure. Sharon Mack is there, helping to prepare the area for the Exchange, as that is what the rift is called. She is selected as a volunteer, but needs to be home prior to the actual exchange so that she can pick up her daughter and relocate to a safe area until the Exchange reverses. That shift seems to average two weeks.
There are those that look forward to the exchange, planning on breaking the law and staying in the pristine wilderness known as Bear Country. In one of the first Exchanges, a group of convicts was included; they escaped and have become a part of Bear Country. On top of the wild animals and strange new species, this group of convicts also adds to the danger of being in the Bear Country side of the Exchange. There is also a group of extremists, a communal group, known as Sister West, after it founder. It too plans to stay in after the exchange and is well prepared going in. As Sharon continues her work, she unintentionally catches the eye of a gang known only as the AK’s, short for Aryan Kings.
As she enters her home, she is attacked by her ex-husband, tied up and left for dead, as he kidnaps her daughter, Bethany. As she escapes she realizes that she must find her ex-husband and her daughter, but she has a short window of opportunity — the two weeks of the exchange. If she cannot find her daughter and get her back, she could lose her forever with the reversal.
It is during this mission that she first meets Leo West. He is part of the Sister West group, and ready to change his life by staying in Bear Country. The meeting and connection are electric. They are separated by a flash flood, not knowing if the other lives, but hoping to reconnect if possible.
Will she find her daughter before the exchange reversal? Will she be able to save herself? The government is now using her, and when she finds Leo again, she finds that even he has secrets, things he does not share about his past. How will the pieces come together?
Exchange is a very interesting and comprehensive look at an alternate universe. It is intense and exciting with action and adventure at every turn of the page. This is a great book and I found it to be fast-paced and easy to follow.
The characters, which include several of the animal species, are well developed and interesting. The human characters are alternately strong and fierce, or stubborn and mean. The interaction is well written and believable, with snappy and sharp dialogue. The interaction with the animals is both amusing but at time fierce and deadly. Each group whether it is animal or human tries to find a niche in the changes occurring in Bear Country. Even with the actionable characteristics, there is also romance and tenderness, a longing that is as old as the earth.
The rival gangs keep the pace going, and yet there too you find pockets of good. Just when you think you have everything figured out; the story twists again, with new information and tactics.
I would recommend Exchange. It is full of interesting and charismatic people, and is action packed, full of adventure and surprises. This is a book packed with fantasy and science fiction, with a bit of history thrown in. It would be a great book for anyone interested in the Science Fiction Fantasy genre, but it is also full of suspense, so should also attract the thriller or mystery buff. It would be a great addition to any book club or reading group with a rich array of conversational activity.