Sunday, March 27, 2016

"Uninvited" and “Unleashed” are provocative books for teens

 The date is March 15, 2021. The place is Boerne, Texas. On that day, the U.S. Surgeon General releases a new report on Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, a genetic predisposition for murder. When high school senior Davy Hamilton tests positive for the “kill gene,” she is ripped from her family and friends and sent to a special camp for teenagers who have the genetic mutation.
 In her two dystopic young adult novels, Uninvited and Unleashed, Sophie Jordan tells the story of a high school senior, Davy, who is a gifted musician and a straight-A student. Davy seems to have it all—beauty, intelligence, family wealth, and an awesome boyfriend. She’s all set to attend Julliard after she graduates from high school and her future looks bright. Davy’s world, however, is shattered when all of the students in her school are tested for the “kill gene” and she is revealed as a carrier. She is transferred to another school where she will complete her senior year caged with other students like herself. While at the special school Davy is befriended by an older boy named Sean who quickly becomes her protector.
           In the first book, Uninvited, after a carrier commits a mass shooting at a Houston mall, citizens who have the “kill gene” are methodically tattooed with a large “H” on their necks and transported to special camps. Davy is taken from her home and sent to a special unit for gifted teenagers. To her relief, Sean is banished to the same camp. 
           Davy describes her journey. “They’re taking us to a place called Mount Haven. This much I glean during the van ride and plane trip. Our group grows as we travel. By the time we land in New Mexico, there are nineteen of us. . . we get plenty of stares as we’re led through the airport and ushered through security. At least ten of us bear the imprints, and people actually press to far walls and clutch their children close as we pass.”
           While at the camp, Davy and Sean hatch a plan to escape. In Unleashed, the sequel to Uninvited, Davy, Sean, and some of their friends from Mount Haven undertake a dangerous cross-country journey to Mexico to find freedom.
           These plot-driven books are full of conflict, both inner and environmental, and Jordan successfully creates suspense from numerous twists and turns. The story-line is intense and the characters are well-developed. The story is told as a first person account by Davy, the primary protagonist of the novels.
           Author Sophie Jordan grew up on a pecan farm in the Texas hill country. A former high school English teacher, she is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” best-selling author. She has also written numerous historical romance novels and now resides in Houston. She obviously understands the teenage mind and, while not overtly “preachy,” these books do carry a message. Are you satisfied with just going with the flow, or do you want to do what’s right—a theme appropriate for all teens. Check out Jordan’s website http://www.sophiejordan.net/. Her books are available from all major booksellers.
This review appeared in the March 22, 2016 edition 
of The Boerne Star.

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