The year is 2008. Six years ago, the Holn arrived on Earth, bringing amazing technological gifts and fostering good relations with mankind. They even allow one of their ships to be used as a tourist attraction, letting the curious and skeptical explore one of their vessels under their watchful eyes.
Then one day, the ship abruptly takes off, while seventeen tourists are still on board. All adults of varying ages. Soon afterwards, they are dropped off safely — but all seventeen are now nine-year-old children. Their minds and memories are still intact — mentally, emotionally, they're still adults — but physically, they're all the same age. Their former lives have been irreparably shattered by the Holn's incomprehensible 'gift'. And the Holn have disappeared off the face of the planet, offering no answers whatsoever for their actions.
The author, Terry England, juggles the stories of the seventeen adults-turned-children, dubbed the Rewound Children, as they struggle with their new bodies and the chaos they've been thrown into, along with the trials and tribulations of the Holn Effect Task Force — a group founded to study the children and figure out just what the hell happened. Interspersed with this are news reports, medical files, and various other documents that flesh out the world, illustrating the stark, cruel reality the children face. The sheer amount of crap they end up going through is just staggering in scope, and the gruesome fates some face is pure Nightmare Fuel. Definitely not a story for kids.
Should not be confused with William Sleator's Rewind (William Sleator), which is about a boy trying to prevent his own death via Mental Time Travel, and definitely is for kids.
Tropes in Rewind:
- Anyone Can Die: Not all seventeen Rewound make it to the end. What happens to them... Brr.
- Arc Words: "I am Aaron Lee Fairfax. I am forty-three years old. I am married to Janessa, but she wants a divorce. I work for Thagg, Morgan, and Edwards Brokerage Group in Kansas City, Missouri. I own a Maserati." Repeated throughout the novel in various permutations, depending on recent events.
- Author Filibuster: Happens several times. For instance, Dr. Innes ripping Reverend van Kellin a new one on Crosshairs. Followed immediately by Miranda and her speech about everyone's hypocrisy.
- Bland-Name Product: Mostly averted; from the very start of the book actual networks like ABC and NBC are named. And call each other names. Later, the Soldiers of God call for the deaths of the Rewound, and claim credit for the deaths that follow.
- Fan Disservice: Rewind opens with the seventeen being hauled in and forced to pose and get photographed while completely nude. The photographs show up later in a tabloid.
- Inhumanable Alien Rights: mentally adults but physically children, modified by aliens...what rights (if any) do the seventeen have? The various actors tend to have opinions that are convenient to their own interests.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The news media turn public opinion against the government over their (certainly quite bad) treatment of the seventeen victims, forcing them to release them into the custody of their families. This opens up all kinds of problems. And eventually leads to several tragic deaths.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Janessa. Oh dear God, Janessa. After her husband is turned into a child, she wastes no time in seizing everything he owns... and selling him out to 'Horseface' for more money. She doesn't even flinch when 'Horseface' and his cronies start pounding the crap out of him right in front of her.
- Secret Project Refugee Family: Aaron, Marian, and the tenents of Grid Manor.
- Strawman News Media: Practically every reporter is a slavering vulture eager to drag all seventeen children kicking and screaming into the spotlight, ravage them, then pick over their corpses. ...And that's a rather tame description, really. Plenty of Strawman Religious Nuts around, too.
- Transhuman: What the Rewound are ultimately revealed to be; the Holn made them into children specifically because it was the most blatant transformation they could put them through, demonstrating the potential of mature biological sciences that they themselves use to traverse the universe and tying into the author's Central Theme; Children are human and if we cannot treat them as such we deserve to go extinct.