A 17-year-old boy and his friends just want enough to survive on in a world where the rich and powerful greedily take everything.
Sully was once "a millionaire for ten minutes, until Alex Holliday's lawyers stopped payment on the check." Sully, a white, working-poor boy from Yonkers, had been conned when only 13 by billionaire exec Holliday for his prize find: a Cherry Red. In the nine years since the brightly colored spheres blanketed the Earth, Cherry Red is still the rarest ever found. Anyone can use up a matched pair of spheres to gain skills—from Slate Gray's singing ability to Mustard's high IQ—so the rich pay millions for marbles that will enhance them in some way. McIntosh’s world is almost exactly like ours, stuffed with pop-culture familiarity (folks read BuzzFeed and watch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), but the rich enjoy even more privilege. When Sully meets Hunter, a sometimes-homeless Puerto Rican black girl with a tragic back story, she invites him to join her hunt for a fat prize: another rare marble, one valuable enough to give them both security. But when they're on the verge of success, Holliday pops up like a contemporary robber baron. Hunter, Sully, and their friends (a white Italian-American boy and a queer Korean-American girl) road-trip across the country in a race for gold that takes an unexpected but pleasing shift to a film-ready action climax.
This fast-paced urban quest wears its agenda on its sleeve, but it’s conveyed with verve and an endearing sense of justice. (Science fiction. 12-14)