“When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.
Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.”
I always knew I was different.
—ARC paperback edition
The concept of a country falling to paranoia is not an unfamiliar one, most recently after 9/11, but also the Cold War, and McCarthy’s witchhunt.) If McCarthy had been able to genetically test for who would be a Communist sympathizer, this is roughly what you’d get.
Priviledged musical prodigy Davy starts out thinking and acting like she is better than the other teens who have HTS, the kill gene. It’s almost as though she thought her parents might find a way to get her out. It takes time, but she does eventually open her mind to the idea that the other HTS kids may be as not-a-killer as she is herself.
The romance never takes center stage, which works well. Davy’s world is larger than her relationship status, especially right now. Sean is a bit of the man-of-few-words type and, while that might work for Davy, it’s not going to work for all readers.
Unfortuantely, a lot of Davy’s agency is taken from her. When she stands up for herself, it resolves with her earning a mark. When she is threatened, Sean is often the one to come to her rescue. She might be more comfortable keeping out of a fight, but the mystery of “will she/won’t she” live up to being a killer would not have suffered if she could ever protect herself.
The female characters certainly could use a lesson in being loyal to their friends and in self-respect. Just about every other female in Davy’s life is either antagonistic, cruel, or taken advantage of. The only person who treats her like a person is her older brother, which was a nice change of pace considering their parents look upon him as a failure.
Appropriate for ages 13+. Intense situations, threats of sexual violence, misogyny, manipulative student-teacher relationship, bullying, strong language. Deals with nature vs. nurture, genetics, identity, betrayal, abandonment, finding inner strength and societal panic.
Readers may wish to discuss the ways in which they made quick judgments about others–over clothing, gender, sexuality, relationship status, intelligence, hobbies, financial status, friend groups, job status, and others. It would benefit to brainstorm ways to know a person better, rather than accepting the opinions pushed by society.
GET IT ON YOUR SHELF:
- Enjoy light sci-fi tones in their dystopian societies
- Have ever been judged unfairly by others
- Are a fan of Minority Report
- Love a little romance with your action
YA Dystopian Thriller
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 28th, 2014 by HarperTeen
ISBN 0062233653 (ISBN13: 9780062233653)
(Review copy provided by Lindsey Karl at HarperCollins.)
Review by Olivia Hennis, originally published 2/20/2014 on YoungAdultMag.com