In this dystopian young-adult novel, a teenage girl with a secret genetic anomaly undergoes grueling military training—and also finds love.
In Rix’s debut, the first in a planned trilogy, America closed its borders after an asteroid known as “God's Fury” destroyed most of the world. Now, the Department of Evolution, or “Devo,” carefully culls people not deemed genetically acceptable and controls breeding to enhance or remove genetic traits. Devotees serve the Devo to ensure order and genetic purity—because beyond the borders, genetically imperfect Deviants are lurking, trying to get in. Sixteen-year-old Jess Grant and her best friend, Jay, have only a few possible futures: They can become Devotees, become breeders or join the military. But Jess has a reason to avoid the Devotees—she has a genetic defect that has given her a brown mark on her stomach, and the ability to react at superspeed when attacked. The handsome, mysterious Sgt. Matt Anderson takes a special interest in her and picks her to be a part of his Black Ops squad. Soon, she’s learning to shoot guns and throw knives as part of her military training while also exploring a romance with Matt. Jess eventually finds out that people outside the borders may not be monsters; later, she learns that she may be a prophesied savior of the world known as “The Navigator.” Although this dystopian novel doesn’t tread much new ground, it does provide a magnificently imagined world and intriguing characters. Rix engagingly plays out Jess and Matt’s relationship with subtle touches, longing looks and playful banter. She also effectively challenges her young readers to face difficult questions—what does “human” mean, and who should decide?—while ably setting the stage for an upcoming sequel.
A complex, intriguing YA sci-fi adventure.