Surprising new obstacles crop up in the Tankborn series finale.
As Awakening (2013) ended, an explosion left Kayla’s and Devak’s fates unknown. Devak awakens to learn that medical expenses for his slow-healing injuries have cost him and his great-grandfather their high social status. Far away, Kayla’s a prisoner in an underground compound run by cult leader Ohin. She and Devak each think the other’s dead. Ohin claims that his movement—Freedom, Humanity, Equality—will bring liberation from slavery for all Genetically Engineered Non-Humans, but Kayla’s a GEN herself and knows that the FHE bombs GEN food warehouses and homes. As Kayla untangles Ohin’s lies and plots her escape (bonding with some giant, organic-but-technologically-controlled spiders), Devak tracks down an elusive, FHE-connected boy who has information about Kayla. His friend Junjie helps, insisting that his crush on this FHE boy isn’t the only reason to trust him. Gone is the fatal illness that dominated Awakening, but now GENs are intentionally damaging their own electronic circuitry—and neurology—to escape the grid that tracks them. Sandler tackles caste systems, slavery and terrorism (including its muddled logic) head-on. Cumbersome prose renders the piece longer than it should be and clumsy on the sentence-to-sentence level, but the plotting’s terrific.
With rebellions, ideological questions and a nonwhite, not-entirely-heterosexual cast, this series is a strong addition to the genre. (glossary) (Science fiction. 13-17)