Jordan’s first try at dystopian YA is so terrifyingly plausible that readers might forget that a corrupt America, infested with crime and under the orders of the oppressive Wainwright Agency, isn’t really waiting outside their doors. Our heroine Davy learns a lot of harsh lessons in this story, and Jordan presents each of her losses with an emotional fluency that sucks readers right into Davy’s head. Sparse glimmers of hope in this downright frightening novel string readers along right to the end and set up the concluding installment in this two-part series.
Davy’s life is nearly perfect. A music prodigy with supportive friends and family, Davy is on track to attend Juilliard in the fall while her boyfriend, Zac, one of the hottest guys in school, is close by at NYU. But when Davy tests positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, the gene that indicates a person is likely to become a violent killer, she’s uninvited from her private high school, her acceptance to Juilliard is revoked, her parents can’t even look at her and though she thought she could count on Zac to get her through this, he betrays her. Davy is quarantined in the basement of the public high school where she meets local carriers, among them the brooding Sean, who bears the imprint of a carrier who has committed a violent act around his neck. As Davy learns what now awaits her post-graduation, can she find a way to dodge her fate? (HARPERTEEN, Feb., 384 pp., $17.99, ISBN: 9780062233653, HC, 13 & Up)