Christine Seifert On Romance, High School And The Dangerous Computer Program In Her New YA
In The Predicteds, debut author Christine Seifert introduces readers to PROFILE, the computer program that is turning Quiet High School into a very different place to learn by predicting which students might be dangerous. But what if PROFILE is wrong?
There’s nothing better than falling in love, except when you fall in love with the wrong person. It’s an age-old dilemma. Just ask Juliet. But it’s a story we keep telling because it’s inevitable: The person we are most drawn to is often the most forbidden. Just ask any of those girls who have ever loved a vampire.
The Predicteds begins with this premise: What would happen if there was some way to determine who is good and who is bad? In Quiet, Oklahoma, scientists have invented a computer program called PROFILE to do just that. Now your potential prom date can submit his paperwork to prove he won’t end up with a rifle on the bell tower. PROFILE can tell you if your potential beloved is going to give you flowers and take you to Homecoming, or if he’s going to give you a collect call and invite you to visit him at juvie.
Quiet High welcomes PROFILE with open arms because the whole school is reeling from a tragic school shooting, a shocking act of violence that seemed to come out of nowhere. Everybody wants answers. Everybody wants to know what they can do to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. PROFILE seems like an easy fix, a quick way to weed out the potential killers.
But not everybody is happy with PROFILE. Daphne Wright, Quiet High’s new girl, is angry about moving from the city to what she perceives to be a hick town. That is, until judgmental Daphne finds herself drawn to one of the people who may be on the wrong side of the PROFILE divide, the irresistible Jesse Kable. Does she follow her heart, which tells her that Jesse is the one, or does she ignore her feelings and trust what the supposed authorities are telling her?
And it’s not just romance that PROFILE messes with. In a divided school, how do you decide who to be friends with? Who can you trust? PROFILE becomes a shortcut that allows people to bypass emotions, intuition, and chemistry. Of courses PROFILE also raises all kinds of questions about whether people can change. And whether or not this new technology is just a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We optimistically believe that we are above such snap judgments by the time we reach adulthood. Sadly, I’m not sure we are. Case in point: I’ve noticed that when I go to faculty meetings at the college where I teach that we divide ourselves based on our identity and titles. Business faculty always sit on the left side of the room. Arts and sciences sit on the right side. I doubt that it has anything to do with not liking each other; I think it just has to do with making judgments about who we think are most like us. We sit where we think we belong based on the labels we’ve given ourselves.
You’d think we’d be old enough to know better. After all, we aren’t teenagers. We have PhDs and mortgages. We were comfortable walking shoes and tweed blazers. A lot of these people are bald! Yet as soon as I walk into that room, it’s like a high school cafeteria all over again (with fewer tater tots and swirlies).
PROFILE is just a new way to make decisions in a world that’s fast-paced and chaotic. But it’s also a way to turn high school into a complete nightmare, especially if PROFILE turns out to be wrong . . .
- Christine Seifert