About the Book
Author: Candace Kade
Genre: YA Science Fiction
Release date: March 14, 2023
Lee Urban is living a lie.
In a society where everyone’s DNA determines their destiny, being a Natural means automatic relegation to the gritty and dangerous Outskirts. With the harnessed power of gene-editing, the ability to create a super-human race has transformed the world and offered the opportunity of a genetically enhanced life. But only to those who can afford it.
Born a Natural, Lee Urban was adopted into the Enhanced high society of the Asian Federation and forced to conceal her genetic roots. When her dream of attending Peking University becomes a reality, she is determined to go despite a warning from a mysterious source.
Targeted by a hacker bent on exposing her true DNA, Urban faces off with an Artificial Intelligence Game that puts her—and her lies—to the test. What was supposed to be a dream come true turns into a lethal gamble of hide-and-seek with her genetics. Can Urban continue the act, or will the cracks in her story expose her and endanger her family?
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This is a good debut science fiction novel. The futuristic setting is realistic. The possibility of genetic alterations for humans is real. Adding abilities from animals, such as wings for flying or increasing abilities, such as strength, is a very possible future. There is a bit of added mystique by placing the novel in a future China.
The character development is good. Urban is a great heroine. She is faced with many of the issues young adults face today, such as feeling she does not fit in. She is pursuing a future determined by her parents and the society in which she lives. She is concerned about her social score, much like youth today are obsessed with their media presence. Like many today, she must decide what really matters and what she would have to sacrifice to be herself.
There is lots of action in this novel. Someone is attacking Urban and the action scenes with Urban battling enhanced opponents are very exciting. Even this septuagenarian found them compelling.
There is not an evident faith message in this novel though I get the impression the adventure has just begun. The novel has a suitable end yet we are left with the potential for a sequel. I'll be watching for it.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
About the Author
More from Candace
Have you ever felt like you don’t belong?
It could be something as small as showing up at a party alone to something bigger like moving to a new city.
In ENHANCED, Urban also feels like she doesn’t belong. In New Beijing in the year 2124, everyone has amazing genetic enhancements given to them through CRISPR gene-editing technology.
Everyone, except Urban.
New Beijing is full of humans with breath-taking DNA. Inceptors with brain enhancements allowing them to read micro facial expressions, Supers who can withstand hard hits and extreme temperatures, Aquas able to breathe underwater, and more. There are eight main gene pools, and Urban doesn’t belong in any of them.
Instead, Urban’s born a Natural, without genetic enhancements, and secretly adopted into New Beijing. She’s forced to hide her genetic roots to protect her family, and pretends to be something she’s not—enhanced.
Urban’s story is personal to me.
As a Third Culture Kid, I’ve spent most of my life straddling two worlds and, trying to fit into places I felt I didn’t belong. At the age of four, my family moved from Ohio to China. I spent my childhood as the only foreign kid at my Chinese schools, neighborhood, and sports teams.
Since then, I’ve often returned to China. I was actually living and working there while writing ENHANCED.
Despite the frequent trips, I didn’t feel “American enough” or “Chinese enough” growing up. Maybe it’s because I botched most American sayings. Maybe it’s because no matter how good my Mandarin was, people looked at my white skin and assumed I didn’t belong in China.
It’s taken me years to come to peace with this.
Urban struggles with something similar. She must balance the Enhanced and Natural worlds all while trying to keep her web of lies from tangling and tripping her up. Which, of course, gets harder when she’s selected as the next AI Games contestant.
When I wrote this book, I was living in Beijing and going through one of the hardest seasons in my life. I had never felt so lonely. There was a song that brought me great comfort during this time. The chorus goes:
“God only knows what you’ve been through,
God only knows what they say about you,
God only knows the real you,
There’s a kind of love that God only knows.”
I played that song on repeat while writing Enhanced. It reminded me that God sees us and knows us intimately. With him, we are never truly alone.
I wrote this book for anyone who feels like they slip between the cracks of society—like they don’t belong. My hope is that you feel seen and understood.
You’re not alone.
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(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)