I was able to read this dystopian young adult novel in a couple of days. It has some tropes we are familiar with, but it is a well-written story about the future United States that has adopted a one child per family law.
Set in Dallas, Darren Goodwin, Director of Texas Family Planning Division enforces the ‘one child one nation’ policy for arrogant tyrannical Governor Roth… or does he?
Darren’s wife died giving birth in the privacy of their home to Ava and Mira Goodwin, identical twins. So for 18 years, Darren has covered up the existence of the second born Mira. The teens take turns one at a time in the outside world, teaching themselves to remember every detail of activities so the other can go out the next day with the same knowledge. ‘If we don’t remember, we don’t survive.’
To further complicate matters, Ava the firstborn has a high tech microchip embedded in her wrist which holds her identity and everything that says she’s Ava. Mira has none so she does not exist to the world. She cannot take a bus, or buy a school lunch. Guards abound and may ask for a wrist scan at any time. This causes a strain on the fragile relationship of the two girls.
Mira cannot develop her own personality. She must shadow Ava and become her when on the outside. She does this well until the governor’s son Holton develops an unhealthy interest in Ava.
He watches Ava/Mira like Sting sings ‘Every Breath You Take. After a few weeks, he can detect the same mannerisms, every other day.
Soon the girls are outed and must make a long treacherous journey across states to get to Canada, a safe zone. This is where I had to suspend my belief because I found it rather slim that two high school smart girls could make their way through dangerous territories with no street smarts and little supplies.
Flying drones that detect smells, rob mobs or the military should have ended their escape before it started. But we wouldn’t have a story if that happened. What kept me reading was the dialogue and personal journey the two teens made during their fight for freedom. No need to be exactly alike anymore, individual personalities emerged, causing anger, resentment, and separation.
The end of book 1 marked the teens disrupting the 75th Galla commemorating the One Child One Nation policy. I look forward to finding out what the governor will do in retaliation and what the girl’s role will be in the rising rebellion. Four stars.