A likable science-fiction romance features strong co-protagonists who know where they come from, but not who they are.
Born in a GenTex lab with human and extraterrestrial DNA, Ariane gives new meaning to “test tube baby.” A lab employee, now her adoptive dad, rescued her from a nightmarish, lab-rat existence, thwarting Dr. Jacobs’ plans to mold her into a designer weapon (her abilities include mind reading and telekinesis). Following strict rules and hiding in plain sight, Ariane’s evaded capture for a decade, but GTX is closer than she realizes. Popular, athletic and good-looking Zane coaxes her into revealing herself, while hiding from her the wounds inflicted by his mother’s abandonment and police-chief father’s contempt. Reluctantly drafted by Dr. Jacobs’ granddaughter, Rachel, the plot’s evil catalyst, into her scheme to humiliate Ariane, Zane instead is intrigued and attracted. Ariane’s long-blocked powers come roaring back when Rachel pushes her buttons. Struggling to unite the disparate strands of her identity, Ariane’s an appealing original who (in a welcome departure from YA orthodoxy) does not have beauty-queen looks of which she’s modestly unaware. She and Zane know precisely where she stands in the appearance hierarchy. Cartoonishly evil, Dr. Jacobs and Rachel are less persuasive.
The traditional cliffhanger ending leaves readers hungry for the next course. (Science fiction. 12 & up)