A teenage scientist struggles to rescue her abducted sister in Kang’s debut novel.
After their father dies from injuries sustained in a freak accident, Zelia and her younger sister, Dylia, are left orphaned in a dystopian future America. They’ve scarcely begun to grieve when they are violently separated: Dylia is kidnapped by strangers who want to profit from her DNA, while Zelia ends up in Carus House, an underground organization that shelters people whose genetic mutations make their very existence illegal. A student of molecular biology, Zelia soon begins her own analysis of Dylia’s DNA, hoping it holds the key to saving her. She also finds herself drawn to Cyrad, a brooding Carus House resident. Their steamy, romantic relationship raises the stakes of the story, but it’s also a little disturbing: Zelia may be 17, but she’s a late bloomer who hasn’t matured sexually. Throughout the novel, Kang’s scrupulous attention to scientific detail adds authenticity but also contributes to the uneven pace; the middle portion feels especially slow after the action-packed opening. The novel works as a stand-alone, but the ending leaves the door open to a sequel.
This humdrum addition to an overcrowded field is for die-hard dystopia fans only. (Dystopian suspense. 12-18)