Ada Lahey has been carrying a secret all of her life, one her father has helped her to keep: though she appears to be a brown-skinned human, 12-year-old Ada is a chimera with infrared vision, seeing hues that others don’t.
This secret is exposed during a random health check at school, when a DNA test reveals her to be a kime. Possibly the result of a mysterious genetic experiment gone awry, kimes are believed to be infectious, even causing death to “normal” humans. Ada is taken from her parents and housed in a Long Island facility with other kime children, who exhibit a variety of animallike features. At first appearance, the quarantined compound seems a safe haven from those who want them all dead. However, shortly after arriving, Ada begins to suspect that the adults in charge have a sinister agenda that involves plans for what this new species of human children could become. Ada soon learns that the strange hues she sees are actually intelligent and may hold the key to the destiny of all of the chimera children. Ada’s snarky personality, conveyed in her likable, present-tense voice, lightens the mood of this dark yet mystical story. It’s set against the current backdrop of climate change, imagining the evolution of humans into a new species (with a little tinkering from scientists).
An inventive, charming tale with a strange mix of science and fantasy. (Science fiction. 10-12)