Genre: YA Dystopian
Release Date: September 5th 2016
On the brink of extinction, being human means more than just surviving.
In Lib’s world, it’s dangerous to deviate from the norm. In fact, for someone who doesn’t live up to the Artificial Intelligence’s standards, it’s practically a death sentence. Lib learns this the hard way when she wakes up in a barren wasteland, with her memories erased, and only one thought lodged in her mind:
“It’s all my fault.”
Lib is a Glitch—an imperfect human component of the utopian world called the Norm. Now she’s thrown out, Lib will be forced to team up with another Glitch, Raj, and the mysterious Rogue Wolf and his clan to survive. Wolf only cares about the survival of his group, but Raj thinks they can hack the A.I. and change the Norm for the better.
Now, Lib will have to decide which path to choose—whether to go with striking loner Raj or stay with Wolf and his tight-knit group. Her heart is drawn to both, but she’s carrying a deadly secret that could jeopardize them all. Will she be able to save her newfound family and stop the A.I. before it’s too late?
The next day I go out with Raj, but we don’t go out alone. Bobcat and several other Rogues go with us. I don’t know their names and no one bothered to tell them to me. Wolf isn’t with us. When I ask Bobcat why, she says, “He can’t be expected to hold your hand every day.”
My face heats. “Did I ask for that?”
I turn away and head over to Raj’s AT. His bruises yellow his skin and his moves are stiff, but he smiles at me. “I’ll hold your hand.”
My face warms again. I shake my head and swing a leg over the AT. We ride the small ones, and I wrap my arms around Raj. He flinches and gives a groan. I loosen my grip. “Still hurts?”
“Only when I laugh,” he mutters.
Bobcat gets on her AT with another Rogue. She leads the way. We follow her for several miles, winding through dusty canyons until the cliffs open up into an almost grassy area. The grass is thin and grows in clumps, but it looks like the grass Wolf showed me how to eat.
Bobcat slows and comes to a stop. I glance around, remembering what Wolf said. I close my eyes and listen and smell. I can smell faint traces of oil, and I hear wind whistling through metal. Opening my eyes, I see a platform buried by sand.
I get off the AT and head over to the platform. It’s in worse shape than any I have seen. But it must be connected still. My hands are clammy, my nerves eating at me. I don’t want to explain why I don’t want to connect.
Raj goes down on his knees and brushes away the sand. He exposes a railing. The platform fell on its side—half is buried, but the railing is near the top. He grins. “The more obscure, the less likely the AI will be monitoring this platform. We still have to be careful. The sentinels still patrol every connect.”
I nod but don’t step any closer to the platform. I don’t want to go in. I never want to go in again. If I go in, will Conie let me out? Will Conie tell me things I don’t want to hear? Will I be reminded of my purpose?
I rub the sweat from my palms on my pants. The back of my neck is tingling and I want to rub it, too, but that would make it obvious how nervous I am.
Raj waves me forward, but I hesitate.
My hands are shaking. My heart pounds and my breath is fast and uneven. I am scared of going in there. I can still remember the AI and… and I don’t know why she helped me or why she had my mother’s face. For all I know, she has my mother somewhere in the Norm. Maybe she holds my mother hostage to use to force me to do what Conie wants. These are things I’m not ready to deal with yet, but I don’t have a choice. I can’t tell Raj about any of this—certainly not with Bobcat and the other Rogues watching us and watching the skies.
“Hurry,” Raj says. A flicker of irritation grates his voice. “You want to wait here until a drone flies by?”
I have no way out. I force myself to walk three steps forward, my heart pounding so loudly I am certain everyone can hear it. I stand beside Raj. The wind hums through the rustled metal. Maybe it will be fine. Maybe there is no power to this platform anymore. Maybe it is nonfunctional and nothing will happen when I try a connect.
Maybe I am dreaming.
Raj gives a tight nod. “Connect. I’ll let you know what we’re looking for once we’re inside.”
Before I can agree or disagree, he places his hand on the railing. His eyes glaze over, unfocused and distant, until it seems as if his body is an empty shell. I hadn’t thought about how a connect must look to others, but now I glance at the Rogues. They look away and shift uneasily. It must seem to them that Raj isn’t really out here anymore. Which is true. His mind is tucked inside a vast computer right now, floating in an endless flow of data.
I can’t leave him there on his own. He might encounter sentinels. Or Conie.
About the Author
Ramona Finn writes about courageous characters who fight to live in broken, dystopian worlds. She believes a person's true characters is often revealed in times of crisis, and there is no greater crisis than the worlds that she drops her characters into!
She grew up sitting cross-legged on her town's library floor--completely engrossed in science fiction books. It was always the futuristic world or the universe-on-the-brink-of-extinction plotlines that drew her in, but it was the brave characters who chose to fight back that kept her turning the pages.
Her books create deep, intricate worlds with bold characters determined to fight for their survival in their dystopian worlds--with a little help from their friends. And, of course, romance is never out of the question ;)