A girl solves family mysteries while uncovering a technological conspiracy.
When Rory is accepted by the prestigious, superelite Theden Academy, she doesn’t have to ask Lux if it’s a good idea to attend. (The popular decision-making app Lux compiles user data to make recommendations.) Before Rory leaves, her father gives her a letter and necklace from her long-dead mother, revealing that her mother was a Theden dropout. The letter—a quote from Paradise Lost—baffles Rory. Additionally, she must cope with the sudden appearance of the Doubt—in this future, any inner voice, be it intuition or providence, is viewed as mental illness. At the school, the student-body president pursues her, she has tons of friends, and she’s even invited into an exclusive secret society. But she finds romance with a counterculture barista-hacker townie. Through a psychology-class project on the Doubt, she accesses her mother’s school and medical records. Unraveling the inconsistencies about her mother, she discovers dark truths about Lux—and as the only one who knows, it’s up to her to stop it. Rory’s stated brilliance is inconsistent with the heavy foreshadowing, and in the final act, there’s a marked drop in believability as both the conspiracy unravels and the solution becomes apparent. Despite these missteps, the story offers wonderful treatments of its themes and will keep readers flipping pages.
Recognizable characters and intriguing technology shine in this cautionary tale. (Science fiction. 13 & up)