Daniela Machado is a high-school student in the dystopian barrio of Bronx City. With growing divides between races and classes due to the changes that have happened in the country, a war zone is breaking out between the genetically perfected highborns in Manhattan and the nopes residing in the poorer districts. Daniela only wants two things in life: to continue her dominant winning streak on the school track team, and to cure her brother Mateo of a mysterious disease known as The Waste, which only infects poorer people and kills them off while young. Daniela is offered a free ride scholarship to the Tuck Academy, a Manhattan school for the gifted, offering her a possibility of achieving both of her goals. Being pulled into the world of the highborns, however, carries with it significant risks.
Filled with mystery, suspense, and plenty of action, this book moves at a runner's pace from start to finish. With the bulk of its characters being teenaged and coming from various walks of life, it easily fits into the mold of the young adult genre, giving equal amounts of focus to building the world and growing the characters that inhabit it. The story itself is immensely creative, featuring sci-fi technology that results in superpowers for the lucky few who can attain them. Still, the fantasy of this story is tempered with aspects of reality identifiable to more mature readers. Setting up a wealth of mysteries before pulling back the veil on each, it's hard to escape the grasp of this book, which can function just as well on its own or as the start of an expansive franchise. It could be easy to describe this story as sci-fi, young adult, or fantasy, but it blends and transcends each of those labels and stands as unique.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review