In near-future Australia, a girl with unusual powers is caught up in a battle for the soul of her country.
Two years ago, Julianne “Jules” De Marchi blew up a wing of her school—a wing paid for by the Paxton Federation, an agricultural company engaged in questionable practices that dominates Australia. Now 18, Jules and her mother, Angie, scrape by, Angie’s journalism career and activism derailed by a blackmailer who knows what really happened at school that day: Jules can generate electricity, and the explosion was an accident that occurred when she couldn’t control the current. After a lot of narrative delay, the truth comes out: Her abilities are the result of Pax Fed experimentation—and Pax Fed is torn between studying her and killing her. It will take the help of Ryan, a member of a secret Australian army unit who conveniently falls for Jules, and the rest of his unit to protect Jules and reveal the truth about Pax Fed. The Australian setting is well-realized. While there are nods to diversity in the supporting characters, all the protagonists appear to be white. Chapters told from the point of view of adult characters dilute the impact of Jules’ story, especially as none of the characters are particularly vivid or compelling.
A good idea undercut by the author’s choices. (Science fiction/dystopian. 16-adult)