"You’re going to die"
A single text message and Shelley Marano’s world is upended. A normal high school senior, Shelley discovers she is adopted. She goes on a journey to uncover her past, only to find she was part of a horrific experiment to test the theory of nature versus nurture. In a culture of violence committed by young people, she may be one of these killers. With the lives of her and her friends in the balance, one thing is certain: she will never be the same.
Many thanks to the author, who provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Just when I think I’m going to hang up the reins on YA, that I’m just too old and jaded to enjoy it anymore, I run across something like this. Something that restores my faith that there is good YA out there, buried underneath all of the other fluffy crap that dominates the market these days. I was reminded of several thriller type tv shows while reading this, including the Dollhouse and Orphan Black. I was impressed with the writing, and how well it flowed. Once I got into this book, I found that I could not put it down. The mystery was well put together and complex enough to keep me trying to piece the clues together.
The main character, Shelley, is what is termed as a “normal” high school senior. Her main concern at the start of this story is breaking the news to her dad that she wants to go to college out of state, and not return when she is finished. Her dad owns an auto body shop, and has raised her alone since the death of her mother several years before. He comes off a little clueless and overprotective, but you can’t help but like the guy. He’s doing the best he knows how to do, and it shows. Shelley spends her days either working part time in the shop, or spending time with her best friend Winston. I really liked Winston as a character. He’s kind of nerdy, he likes to blow things up and film them in slow motion….and he’s hopelessly devoted to Shelley. She knows it, but tries to keep things light between them.
Seems like a fairly normal life, right? It is, until one day Shelley has the rug of reality jerked out from underneath her. She is contacted by someone claiming to be her brother, telling her that some mysterious “they” are out to kill her. She blows him off - to her knowledge she is her parent’s only child. The stranger hunts her down at school and when she sees the resemblance between them she can’t deny it - they are obviously related. She confronts her father, and finds out what he has been hiding all of these years: she really was adopted. From there on out I could do nothing more than hold on as this book took me on a wild ride to the end.
Before she can get any more concrete information from her “brother”, he is killed. Heartbroken, afraid for her life and feeling betrayed by her father, Shelley researches her past. What she discovers is astounding: a genetic experiment that sounds like it should have come right out of Stephen King’s own shady government lab, the Shop. Suddenly the feeling of disconnection Shelley has felt her entire life seems to have a origin. What is she? Does this mean that the strange, violent urges and dreams she has always had are a vision of her future or just normal teenage nuttiness? Is she a baby universal soldier, as the creator of the experiment intended? Can nurture conquer nature, or is she a ticking time bomb waiting for ignition? The killer is very real, and is slowly narrowing down his hit list until Shelley is his only remaining target. Can Shelley protect herself and the people she loves, and how far is she willing to go?
I really loved this story. I’m so glad that the author contacted us and asked us to read it. I have it on pretty good authority (ok, so I emailed the author and begged….) that there may be a second book in the works. He hit it on the head with this one - Shelley really came across as just what she is: a confused, terrified teenage girl dealing with a situation way over her maturity level. I’m crossing my fingers that we'll be seeing more in this series.
First, let me thank James Morris for providing me with a copy of this to read in exchange for an honest review. The day Mr. Morris contacted me to ask if Em and I would be interested in reading and reviewing his book was an awesome day. We totally fangirled. Wanna know why? Besides the obvious that an author had contacted us.. lol … but we found out Mr. Morris used to work one of our favorite TV shows. Not sure if I can share where but it was a super show. So.. yes, much, much fangirling.
Secondly this book… I. Am. Blown. Away! Totally 100% tip top, knocked over and just.. yeah. This is what YA should be. (laughs) Not all YA catches my attention. But this one.. this little story is action packed, literally from the very first page. So, yeah I completely loved it. Mr. Morris has a knack for keeping a story going. And yes, yes, yes, I would read this again. And I may just do that as soon as I can. It was that good. There is something that draws you into his characters. His experience and background show in his work. He has a fan for life. I kid you not. I am super excited to know there is another book after this one. May be a little time and I am ready to wait for it. I loved Shelley (though there were quite a few times I wanted to reach into the book and shake the crap out of her... lol) and Winston, be still my heart. I frigging loved Winston. He is totes a friend I would have. Actually, change him to a chick with red hair and he was a friend of mine in HS.
The mechanics of this story are more than your average YA book. Its on a level all of its own, in my opinion. I know Em agrees with me there. It had so many elements going at once. Fear, anger, revenge, satisfaction, and my god the suspense of what was actually happening was brilliant. I love when you have to let a book play out in front of you. I don’t like being able to figure out what is happening before it does. (Sadly, that happens at times.) But not here. I was on the edge of my seat! This will be a book that I re-read in the near future. It was that good. :)
About the Author:
James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching 'House Hunters Renovation', or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.