Desperate and on the run from GTX, Ariane needs the secret, emergency cache that Mark, her stepfather, hid for her, but relief at finding it is short-lived when she discovers the letter he left with it.
Two other scientific labs have been competing with GTX to craft test-tube babies from human and alien DNA, turning them into living, lethal weapons. Eliminating Ariane—the most successful—would also eliminate GTX from the competition. While Mark warned Ariane to travel alone, Zane won’t let that happen. As they travel to Zane’s estranged mother’s home, their attachment grows, but there’s no time to cuddle. Zane worries alien-enhanced Ariane sees him as weak, while she’s afraid he’ll see her as less than human. When focusing on their obsessions, the plot grows slack and the pace slows. Alternating narration becomes repetitious when both narrators recount the same events; Ariane’s powers allow her to hear Zane’s thoughts and learn his feelings for her, further quashing suspense. But the story regains traction when Ariane seeks out and confronts her angry, wounded counterpart, Ford, and her wounded cellmates, Ariane’s relatives. Though not raised in isolation like Ariane, they have also been taught to reject their half-human origins.
Overcoming a melodramatic start, this page-turner accelerates to a taut climax with full marks for the cliffhanger ending. (Science fiction/romance. 12-18)