The debut novel of Anne Heltzel, “Circle 9,” draws the reader in from the very first page. Heltzel’s central characters, Abby and Sam, are young lovers who live in a cave hiding from the forces of an outside world they call, Circle 9. Worldly Sam has warned his naive girlfriend, Abby, that leaving the safe confines of their abode will certainly lead to her peril. Sam likens the forces beyond as the ninth level of hell in Dante’s “Inferno.”
The story progresses in an almost dream-like state, told from Abby’s perspective. She awakens outside the ruins of a burned building looking into the face of what she deems an angel, Sam. Abby adores Sam and paints a picture of an idyllic life of reading, sketching and keeping house with a boy who only wants to protect her.
Heltzel has Abby tell her story moving from the moment she gains consciousness outside the fire to a period of four weeks later. Abby is slowly awakening from a dream, recalling more from her life with each passing day. With more recollection, she distrusts Sam’s version of their life more. Her world becomes more disturbing with the addition of Amanda and Sam introducing Abby to his “friend,” Sid.
“Circle 9″ continues to show the raveling and unraveling of Abby’s life and the disgust and anxiety she feels as she remembers her life before Sam. Heltzel writes a gripping novel that leaves the reader expectant for the next page. The ending was left open to a sequel and I know that it is a book I would gladly read. It is my hope that Heltzel while continue the saga of Abby.
I think “Circle 9″ is a great read for older teens and older as it does have some sexually suggestive content and drug references, as well.