Teenagers who test positive for a gene linked to violence must go through a government program before being allowed back into society.
Halfway through his stay in a facility for psychological testing on teenagers with a mutation of the “warrior gene,” Lucas is barely holding on. His only advantages are roommate Chris, who has become a loyal friend, and Lucas’ inside information about the tests. The price of that information was too high: Lucas’ older brother survived the program only to kill himself once released. Suddenly, Lucas’ cohort is being moved out of the facility weeks early. The van ride to the next phase of the program is disrupted by a blizzard and by strategically downed trees in the road. When tragedy strikes, Lucas and Chris meet up with a small rescue party and—due to a surprising (and implausible) connection—the boys agree to return to the facility to complete the rescue and smuggle information about the true impact of the program to someone who might be able to stop it. Once back in the building, the boys must contend with their brutal guards, power outages, and chaos in a buildup to an anticlimactic climax and a tidy, glossed-over epilogue. Lucas and Chris’ natural and appealing friendship can’t overcome other characters’ illogical motivations and decisions.
A promising premise and strong start are squandered by sloppy plotting. (Science fiction. 12-16)