Author: Courtney Farrell
Published: August 15th 2013 by Crescent Moon Press
Page Count: 306
Genre: YA Dystopian
Shelf: Review Copy
“Carissa!” he shouted. She hesitated, looking up, and then shook her head at him.
Brian waved wildly. “Wait!” That threw him off balance and he windmilled his arms, trying to stay on his feet. Fresh pigeon droppings made the metal slick, and the Institute’s star athlete failed. He slipped and crashed hard onto the broken pavement Outside. Pain exploded through his knees and back, but he struggled to his feet almost immediately. Bloody abrasions covered Brian’s forearms and knees. Pain screamed from the crushed knee, triggering an animal instinct to hide. He backed into the shadow of one of the little Norm hovels that lined the alley.
He took a deep breath to call Carissa’s name again, but a flash of blue in his peripheral vision stopped him. A couple of Augment security guards lurked in the alley outside the gate. Cooking fires made the air gray with smoke, giving the place an eerie feel. Brian concentrated, trying for a pain block, but these things take a focused mind. He limped around the corner, finally forcing himself into a shambling run. Carissa slipped along ahead of him like she didn’t even touch the ground.
Brian did his best to catch up, but he never got any closer. The cull entered a sunny stretch and he suddenly saw why. Carissa ran for her life, pursued by a man in blue. Pain from Brian’s shattered knee shot up his leg, slowing him down, but he wouldn’t give up. Ahead, the blue uniformed man dropped to a crouch and pulled out a crossbow equipped with a laser sight. Ignoring his injuries, Brian pounded down the alley.
The cull must have seen the little red dot dancing along the wall, because she stopped running and turned around to face her hunter. Sunlight caught her hair, turning it to gold. She spread her arms like an angel, and the bolt took her in the heart. Carissa fell more gracefully than any cull had a right to, dead before she hit the ground.
“No!” Brian screamed. He turned on her murderer. The Augment security chief knelt in the dirt with a second bolt already fixed in his crossbow, aimed right at the boy’s chest. For a moment, neither one moved.
Brian didn’t want to know, but he had to ask. “Do you,” he gasped for air and spit out blood. “Do you kill all the culls?”
The man’s face crumpled, making him look decades older. “Them fancy genes of yours, they don’t want ‘em mixing with the common folks’.”
“They? Who gave the order?” But Brian already knew.
“So there’s no colony of Imperfects…that’s just what they tell the culls, so they go quietly.”
The security chief nodded, his weathered cheeks streaked with tears. “I told ya, boy. Givin’ her food wouldn’t matter none.”
The Augment unexpectedly pivoted the weapon in his hands and held out the stock. Brian snatched it away and leveled it threateningly. The chief clambered to his feet, gripping his knees like an old man, and straightened up to stand at attention. His blue eyes locked fearlessly on Brian’s brown ones. Brian froze, and the man gave him an encouraging nod.
“Go ahead, son. Do me the favor.” The chief slowly lifted his arms and held them out, just like Carissa had. Strangely, that little movement saved his life.
Brian couldn’t pull the trigger. Instead, he swung the bow savagely against the Institute wall, beating it over and over until it flew from his hands. Then he walked away, leaving the Institute security chief alone with the body of the first girl he ever loved. At the corner Brian turned and looked back.
“Are y’ gonna tell ‘em?” the chief called down the alley. His voice echoed strangely from the ruins of the old city. “Are y’ gonna tell’em, or will you let ‘em hope?”
Farrell has created some age appropriate characters to carry her story forward. Not only are they young adult characters, who are coming into their own as individuals and stepping away from their parents but none of them act noticeably older or younger than they are. Not only are these characters well developed, but they’re also unique yet natural. Each character also has a different ‘ability’ that is intriguing and adds to who they are as a person rather than simply a superfluous add-on. Also, even though the author has a definite ‘main’ character for this novel, she is very strongly supported by her friends and her brother who become almost main characters in their own right.
There is an intense social discourse hidden within this very interesting tale. The plight of these children/young adults who want to live their lives but are stuck in a society that is quite reminiscent of some of the most stringent regimes in history is very heartbreaking, but their strength as a group is quite inspiring.
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Crescent Moon Press http://crescentmoonpress.com/books/Enhanced.html