written by Kate Blair
Dancing Cat Books, 2015
978-1-77086-454-2 (pb) $14.95
for Grades 8 and up
Fiction / Dystopia / Alternate Realities / Privilege / Social Inequality / Justice
In an alternate version of present day London, there is one key difference in the world. Medical science has found a way to remove diseases from the sick by transferring them to other living humans--namely criminals. This is the world that 16-year-old Talia Hale, daughter of a prime ministerial candidate, lives in. When she realizes that the efforts to ensure that bad things only happen to bad people have put her new friends in peril, she has to make a decision. Will she defy her father to protect them, even if it costs him the election?
What if you could keep good people from ever getting sick, while fighting crime at the same time? Imagine if instead of jail, criminals are sentenced to illnesses ranging from the flu to meningitis, depending on the crime. Is it a solution to a problem, or the cause of the problem? These are questions protagonist Talia begins to examine in Kate Blair's chilling debut novel.
Talia is an intelligent, resourceful teen with a strong sense of justice. Having lost her mother and sister to a violent crime when she was younger, she has always believed in "the system." The system is there to protect the people and keep them safe. When she saves a girl around her sister's age from a seemingly dangerous criminal, she discovers that the system is not as perfect as it seems.
The book is unique, well paced, engaging and insightful; themes of class divide, poverty, justice and loyalty take centre stage. Blair deftly examines how efforts to make something right can go terribly wrong, and highlights the challenges of standing up for your convictions even when that means potentially hurting the people you care about most.