Fragile Remedy

Flux. Jun. 2020. 352p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781635830569.
Gr 8 Up–Nate, 16, created for spare parts and highly prized blood that causes euphoria, struggles in a world where so many have succumbed to lung rot. Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue, or GEM, he hides his secret because his blood is highly addictive for non–genetically engineered human beings. The poor and powerless live in the quarantined and lawless Withers, outside the walled metropolis of Gathos City. A Tinker who repairs broken tech, Nate is in love with Reed, the leader of a small gang whose members live by scavenging whatever they can find in bins and trashed buildings. He also has a troubled but intense relationship with Alden, a local drug dealer, who is the only one who can provide Nate with the Remedy he needs to stay alive. Primary characters have depth and complexity, while secondary ones serve mostly to forward the plot. This dystopian survival story wraps up too neatly in the final pages, with new characters introduced and hidden motivations suddenly revealed for a tidy conclusion. However, the action is immediate and relentless, with detailed and complex world-building. The Withers is described in language that evokes the worst of urban decay, providing an intriguingly shadowy backdrop for the unfolding events. Romantic, sensual moments between Reed and Nate, as well as Nate’s fervid encounters with Alden, are juxtaposed against the grinding, daily struggle for survival.
VERDICT Those seeking a vivid visit to the dystopian dark side can start here.

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