Seventeen-year-old Sophie’s mother works as a scientist on a secret island, so when the girl gets an emergency email, she rushes to join her.
However, when she gets to Guam from the mainland U.S., no one there wants to fly Sophie to Skin Island, saying it’s too dangerous. Finally, Sophie finds Jim, her childhood friend from when her family lived on Guam. When they land on Skin Island, they discover that the runway has been sabotaged, and Jim’s plane is wrecked. While Jim tries to salvage his plane, Sophie is ushered to the lab, where she finds an unconscious girl who looks exactly like her. Knocked out, she awakens to discover she’s been mistaken for Lux, a Vitro—a chip-implanted human grown from unneeded embryos and programmed to obey whomever she sees when she first awakes at age 17. Sophie plays along to learn more. When Jim arrives at the facility to retrieve Sophie, complications arise. Thereafter, the story becomes a shoot’em-up chase thriller, with poor Jim surviving at least two too many near-death experiences. Narrative perspective alternates among Sophie, Jim and Lux, following two plotlines until events converge. Khoury keeps the action moving with plenty of escapes and re-captures, gunfights and physical battles. If somewhat overlong and melodramatic, it’s rarely dull, though overt moralizing mars the delivery.
Ultimately, a pretty standard mad-scientist thriller. (Science fiction. 12 & up)