On a far away planet called Loka, the emigrants from Earth have come up with an ingenious solution to the problem of the work that no one wants to do. They have created GENs (Genetically Engineered Non-Humans) and assigned them to the families who can afford them. Kayla is a GEN and she has been built with amazingly strong arms, which will suit her eventual assignment. Her best friend, Mishalla has been made to nurture young children. That’s the best part about GENs, they can be manufactured for whatever society needs, and they are completely identifiable by the tattoos on their faces (which can also be used to upload new instructions).
When Kayla finally gets her assignment, caring for the head of a “trueborn” family (Zul), something is amiss. She had an extra upload that is just beginning to seem strange. When Zul gives her a reader and “accidentally” leaves it networked, she really starts to be concerned. And then there’s the whole matter of Devak, who sets her on fire with a look… . But that can never be. Trueborns and GENs are not allowed to socialize much less fall in love.
Despite being another in the whole “Earth is dying so a future must be set on another planet” genre, there’s more substance to this one. It is always a good idea to have a book like this that can open a dialogue about what actually separates different kinds of people from each other. And this book does so well, without being overbearing and with a nice mystery/cloak-and-dagger element to keep things clicking along. It was also nice that Kayla was in the dark at the beginning, so the reader feels like he or she is learning along with the character. Very fun and a little heartbreaking.
Highly recommended for Middle Schools and up.