A Perfect Blank

West 44. Feb. 2020. 200p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781538382868; pap. $12.90. ISBN 9781538382851.
Gr 8 Up–Meet Alex: one of 10 biologically engineered humans as part of Project Apogee. For years, these promising New Humans have been the next level of genetic perfection. Except for Alex, who at the age of eight is kicked out of the program for testing only slightly above average (and exuding too many “feminine qualities”). Now 15, Alex is thriving, living as their true self with a truly amazing skill until one phone call leads them back to Project Apogee. The nine other perfect humans have all just tested as unextraordinary and Project Apogee needs Alex, the first failure and possibly now the most extraordinary, to help. A solid debut from trans author Duran that looks into a sci-fi future not too distant from our own. Written in free verse, the plot’s pacing moves rapidly, using Project Apogee to explore societal views on what makes a human flawless. The dynamic of the authority figure (Project Apogee) vs. the moldable individuals (New Humans) allows Alex to beautifully stand up for themselves by embracing who they are and what they love. Though there is a very quick and clean resolution, Alex’s journey toward self-love really hits home near the end when they realize that no one is a mistake, and no one needs to prove their worth.
VERDICT For the collection looking to build its LGBT titles, this is a book that praises every life as remarkable and worthy.

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