The Lazarus serum allows people with the right blood type to survive death, but in this minimalist dystopia, death may be preferable to the grim future that awaits the resurrected.
The serum has side effects. Pales, the resurrected, don’t breathe, their hearts stop beating, and they never age; skin, hair and eye pupils turn ghostly white. Jed’s community hates the Pales, confining them to the Graveyard, a decayed ghetto. His lawyer dad specializes in denying Pales post-mortem legal rights. Not long after Jed and his brutal friend Kyle beat up a Pale, Jed dies in a car accident, and his distraught girlfriend, Sadie, asks first responders to give him the serum. Now that Jed’s a Pale, his father can’t bear to see him; his friends, even Sadie, reject him. Good genre fiction offers readers a fresh, unique perspective on their world. This rare science-fiction hi-lo for teens (a category largely confined to urban realism) by a British fantasy author raises tough, intriguing questions about insiders and outcasts, gangs, loyalty and what makes life worth living. However, the exceptionally tight word count limits their exploration. This frustratingly vague world cries out for detail and context.
Struggling or reluctant readers may be perplexed, but the gripping, if violent, teen content will keep them engaged. Guaranteed to generate lively discussion. (Science fiction. 13 & up)