“Manners, modesty, and gardening” are the most important aspects of any obedient young woman’s education.
The 12 perfect, uniformly beautiful, very proper, and emotionally restrained young ladies in attendance at Innovations Academy must please the investors, creepy professors, and head of school as well as the increasingly odious Guardian Bose. Nightly “vitamins” and utterly horrific impulse control therapy eliminate any pesky behavior. Mena is close with the other girls, but when she meets a boy named Jackson on a rare outing, his concern and questions open cracks in her memory, which is hazy regarding life before Innovations. When one of the girls disappears, Mena begins to think for herself and question the school authorities’ true motives. A few clues pave the way to the big reveals, and the girls cleverly utilize their outdated education to manipulate their minders. How these girls are treated is vile, but the views and practices underlying them weren’t left behind in the 1950s. Young (The Complication, 2018, etc.) holds a mirror up to modern society’s push for perfection and the still all-too-common repressive treatment of women and girls. Readers will be revved up for the inevitable uprising. Characters follow a white default; Jackson and one student have dark skin. Two of the girls are romantically involved.
Despite a few predictable sci-fi elements, this is a suspenseful and timely read. Readers will look forward to the sequel. (Dystopian thriller. 13-18)