Sanders (In His Stead, 2012, etc.) offers the first book of a YA adventure series that blurs the line between paranormal and natural gifts.
Thirteen-year-old Lilly Kimura Randall lives a regimented life. Home-schooled by her father, she spends each day learning and training—applying her high IQ to academic studies or developing her physical skills at running and jujitsu. Lilly loves her dad but rails against his overprotectiveness. She wants to meet people her own age, go to school, and make friends. But none of these things are possible with her father constantly at her side, shielding her from the world. What Lilly doesn’t realize is that her dad’s fears for her are very real and that his training methods are key to her survival. For Lilly isn’t just smart; she’s also something called a “finder,” genetically engineered by the ruthless Nautilus Organization and, unknowingly, on the run from them. When she mind-links with the mysterious, faraway Skye, a friend of her father’s, Lilly can find anything she’s asked to locate. But will she find a way to stay alive when she goes against her father’s orders? Sanders writes in a clear, purposeful manner with apposite descriptive passages. One of the book’s great achievements lies in juxtaposing Lilly’s feelings of helplessness and isolation with the sordid conditions in which homeless people and other unfortunates live. Her experiences of the world are far from black-and-white: as she yearns for independence, she also feels the stigma of being different. But she’s also shown not to only be concerned with herself, and the authenticity of her everyday world, as filtered through her exceptional mind, adds heft and urgency to the hunted-fugitive plot. Although Lilly’s powers are little seen in this first installment, her social awkwardness and her position as an intelligent outsider are enough to set her—and the story—apart from others. Young-adult readers will root for Lilly and, in doing so, come to truly appreciate her.
A serious, sharp-edged YA escapade.