To save her best friend, Clair must uncover a terrible conspiracy in this futuristic thriller.
A viral message offers Improvement, changing a person’s looks, intelligence or anything else by modifying their “patterns” when they use the teleportation technology called d-mat. Few believe it can work, as it circumvents d-mat safeguards. The d-mat technology solved the energy crisis, allows people to replicate material items and provides instant teleportation anywhere—it helps to maintain world peace. But Clair’s best friend, Libby, tries Improvement anyway—and claims it works. But she’s struck with terrible headaches, mood swings and erratic behavior. Worried, Clair turns to the school freak, a boy whose family abstains from technology, to see if their movement knows anything about Improvement. Before learning that the Improved end up brain damaged and committing suicide a week afterward—a fate Clair must save Libby from—Clair attempts it. Her only noticeable change is gaining a mysterious hacker/digital stalker who claims to want to help Clair, even as shady people try to kill Clair. Clair comes into her own as she strategizes to survive. A tedious love triangle resolves mercifully quickly, but the later romantic storyline is predictable and obligatory. The dangers, casualties and well-written action scenes keep tensions high.
Williams marries accessibly explored moral ramifications of future technologies—a hallmark of mature science fiction—with a strong, capable teen heroine and heart-pounding action (just flip past the romance). (author’s note) (Science fiction. 12 & up)