In a near future of gene modification, personhood is political and not just for the modified.
In an America that has survived several major flu epidemics and where only the cities have easy electrical power and only the rich have anything passing for internet or cell service, the interested (with enough money) can have their genes altered and change their appearances. Those who are “spliced” become chimeras, humans with animal DNA. The changes are somatic (rather than germinal), so the spliced have characteristics of the animal of their choice but don’t pass on traits. Nevertheless, Howard Wells, an unscrupulous millionaire and politician-wannabe, has seen the chance to play on the public’s fears, and he pushes a Pennsylvania state law to make the chimeras nonpersons, and other states soon follow suit. High school junior Jimi has no desire to get spliced, but her best friend, Del, despite his repressive father’s wishes, wants nothing more. When Del vanishes just after becoming a chimera and Wells’ law passes, Jimi sets out to find her friend with the help of spliced acquaintances in a country where they are suddenly legally less than human. Adult thriller author McGoran creates a very believable future seen through the eyes of a believable white teen for whom discrimination on the basis of visual difference has suddenly become real. This nightmare study in manufactured prejudice will resonate with many teens who see themselves as part of a marginalized group, especially in the era of Trump.
Timely, thrilling, and more than a little scary. (Science fiction. 14-18)