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THE SECRET UNDER MY SKIN by Janet McNaughton

THE SECRET UNDER MY SKIN

By Janet McNaughton

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-06-008989-X
Publisher: Eos/HarperCollins

Inept plotting and pacing sinks this idea-rich import, set in Newfoundland. By 2368, the Earth is only beginning to recover from the ecological depredations of previous centuries; meanwhile, survivors live in isolated colonies, under the thumb of a faceless “Commission” thanks to an orchestrated, wholesale slaughter of scientists, billed the Technocaust, a few years before. Blay, a teenaged orphan, learns all of this after being requisitioned from a Commission workhouse to provide companionship for Marrella, an arrogant townie whose weak immune system has made her a candidate for the prestigious, once-dangerous job of Bio-Indicator, or living environmental monitor. While slowly developing this promising set-up, McNaughton continually shoehorns in subplots and new characters, from a semi-religious resistance, to romantic interests for the two protagonists, from a sudden, offstage revolution partway through that brings down the Commission, to a protracted but similarly offstage search for Blay’s past. Readers hoping for a clear story arc, main characters who play major roles in events rather than just watching or hearing about them, or even just a bit of suspense, will be disappointed. (Fiction. 11-13)