What a wonderful array of questions, thoughts and issues this story raises for the young adult reader. For here we are introduced to the world of twelve year olds who live in such a different society. They have never questioned the rules they live by, or the processes they undergo. Gradually, the disclosure of their lifestyle is revealed. For example, one of the friendship group is about to celebrate his thirteenth birthday. At this time, the teenagers find out if they have been conceived naturally, or been genetically modified. It is also a time when they are tested for their latency, or intellectual strength, and the brain is adjusted to make the most of that talent.
Mori is the first character we meet. She is a twelve year old girl who goes to school, rides her bike and hangs out with her friends. The group has a strong sense of commitment to each other, and a sense of responsibility to keep their community rules. After all, the reason they live in a closed community is for their own benefit.
Mori, her friends Theo, Julia and Benji are aware that their parents can modify their behaviour. If parents are worried that their children are in danger, they can dampen their curiosity, and dampen the children’s bravery to keep them safe. When a child is born, there is a 30% option for alteration. Mori has a damaged retina, and so has a small camera inserted in her eye. Robots deliver food to each house, and provide many other services as well, such as scanning a body for health issues.
The story is developed around a newcomer to the district. Ilana and her family have moved into a vacant house. When she meets Mori, they immediately strike up a friendship. Mori’s love of nature is shared by Ilana, and together they wander around a garden in the woods that Mori has created. Mori is curious about an abandoned house in their cul-de-sac. Her grandmother lived there, but Mori has been warned not to go near it. Encouraged by her new friend, they break into the house and discover experiments that were conducted on bees, and also attempts to create humanoids.
At this stage, the other teenagers are frightened, but emboldened by her desire to discover more about her grandmother, Mori breaks into the house again. Much to her horror, she discovers information that may explain some of Ilana’s erratic behaviour. Action must be taken to save her new friend, but it will have to be so extreme that Mori consults her friends. Julia backs out, but the rest join in Mori’s plan to help Ilana.
The themes in this book are of loyalty and friendship and being aware. The characters are well rounded, and the imaginative setting and social structures are amazing, but believable. This is a most enjoyable story with a sequel to follow.
|Author||Megan Frazer Blakemore|
|Publisher||Bloomsbury USA Children|