The novel’s author Lisa Forester, who resides in northwest England, notified Jack Ponder, media specialist for the co-located library for Lincoln High School and Drew Middle School, of the book’s impending arrival to brick-and-mortar and virtual bookstores while offering an explanation on why she chose Lincoln for her setting.
“I stumbled upon Lincoln completely by chance,” Forester told Ponder via email. “The novel focuses on five children who were created in a science lab in a town in America. I needed a town somewhere close enough to a large airport to be accessible, but far enough away that it wouldn't be overcrowded. Substitute the Honda plant for a Science lab and viola — ‘Freaks’ was born in Lincoln. It turned out to be an excellent choice and I'm so pleased I chose it!”
Ponder, a Talladega County native who’s worked with the school for more than 19 years, received an autographed copy of the book for the library after their initial contact along with bookmarks, autographed postcards and a letter to the students from Forester to display in the library.
While Forester never had set foot in Lincoln before writing the novel, she diligently researched the city through the use of Google’s street view while altering some locations in order for the city to fit the story’s theme.
“I couldn’t tell you the exact amount of time that I’ve spent virtually wandering around your town – but I know that it’s a lot,” Forester said in the letter to the LHS students. “I wandered around, trying to navigate your streets and find the most realistic places to use. I know that you may read portions of ‘Freaks’ and think, ‘That sign doesn’t exist!’ or ‘That store isn’t there!’ but I had to use a little bit of artistic license. I had to make sure that I didn’t have my characters wandering aimlessly around for a large proportion of the book whilst they tried to find a pharmacy or a McDonalds. I’m sure that there will be a lot of places that you do recognize though — even your school gets a brief mention!”
After reading the book, Ponder noted seeing some of the city’s features and locations such as Blue Eye Creek, Magnolia Street, Lincoln High School, the Talladega Superspeedway and the Coosa River was the part he had looked forward to the most about the book.
“When I first picked it up, I just scanned through it trying to see if a word or a name of the street caught my eye,” Ponder said. “After reading it, I could follow along about where the characters where at certain points in the book. All things considered, she treated Lincoln fairly well.”
Once Ponder completed the book, he passed it along to LHS senior Kaci Kopecky, who read the 228-page novel in one day.
“I read books a lot, and when I read, I envision what a place might look like,” Kopecky said. “This time, I could clearly see it because of what all she talked about in the novel as far as the different buildings. I could actually see where they were going and what the place looked like. It made me feel like I had a closer connection to the book because I had been to some of the places (the characters) talked about in the book.”
Ponder stated he hasn’t publicized the library has a copy of the book due to it being the only one available, but information provided through Kopecky via word-of-mouth to the student body has increased the demand for the book.
“The only copy of the book we currently have, the autographed copy, is in paperback and those are generally roughly-treated, so I’d like to be able to hang onto that one (for the display),” Ponder said. “We have two copies that we’ve ordered that are supposed to be here today, so as soon as we get those books processed, we’ll be able to start circulating them to the students.”
Kopecky mentioned some of her friends have already ordered their own copies of the book, and given her overall assessment of the book, it’s not difficult to see why they couldn’t wait.
“”It’s probably one of the best books I’ve ever read,” Kopecky said. “I feel like a deeper connection to it because I’m able to visualize everything so perfectly. I love sci-fi books and the sci-fi genre is probably one of the most popular genres (among teenagers). There’s a little love story in there, and pretty much every book has one of those.”
Ponder said he believes the novel is appropriate for teenagers 16 and above, and it compares favorably to mainstream young adult fiction series already in circulation such as the ‘Maximum Ride’ series by James Patterson.
“The book currently has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon.com and so far, the book is two-for-two here,” Ponder said. “We both really enjoyed the novel. We’re looking forward to the sequel.”
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org