IA: Initiate is a supernatural thriller set in the mean streets of America. A seemingly random act of gang violence sends “Naz” Andersen on a quest to find answers surrounding his dead parents that lead to a series of discoveries about his supernatural abilities. Naz tries to stay out of the way at his foster parent’s home, but he walks in his sleep, and he is unable to keep the fact that he hears voices from his therapist. He attempts to go unnoticed at school and in the streets of the Exclave, but attracts the attention of friends and bullies alike, and his efforts to protect his little sister make him the target of malicious bullying by the notorious street gang, Incubus Apostles. Naz is an ordinary thirteen-year-old, or so he thinks. He harbors a secret that even he is oblivious to, and a series of ill-fated events reveal to him telekinetic and telepathic abilities. Now he must navigate newly found friendship and gang violence, and face the full force of the world around him. The only way he can survive is to discover the supernatural world within.
John Darryl Winston has crafted a refreshing masterpiece in about a young male of color who defies the odds by not becoming a victim of his environment or succumbing to peer pressure. Naz Anderson, a seemingly ordinary young man with exceptional powers that he has yet to fully realize, is a great character that males and females, young and old, would either identify with or feel some type of connection with him. He and his sister, Meri, have faced hardships that would break most people, but they remain strong, resilient, and most important, positive in their lives. They never feel sorry for themselves or use their tragedy as a crutch or an excuse to misbehave. When placed in perilous positions, Naz fights back with one of the greatest weapons ever given to man, his brain.
While the Anderson children, Naz in particular, are the primary characters in this book, their parents, Dr. Cory and Camille Anderson, are given plenty of focus via flashbacks. There is some intrigue centering on Dr. Anderson’s scientific research and possible ties to Naz’s extraordinary powers. Hopefully more will be revealed in the subsequent books.
IA: Initiate is nicely balanced mix of science fiction, supernatural, and mystery/intrigue and is highly recommended for those who love to see the underdog triumph over tragedy.