Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Outshine by Nola Decker

Main characters:  Gabe, who is allergic to lies, and Jessa, whose entire life is a lie
Location:  Galtonville, a college town
Time period:  Conteporary, or possibly near future
Genre: YA Fiction, Science Fiction, Bio-engineering Speculative Fiction

When he is told that his younger brother has disappeared, Gabe is relieved and hopes that his brother never comes back.  Though Gabe is the older by two years, Watts is an aggressive alpha male and has made Gabe's life a torment.  But Gabe's mother is devastated by Watts' absence.

When she hears that Watts has disappeared, Jessa is disappointed since now all her planning to get Watts to take her to the Valentine's Day dance is now worthless.

Sounds like a typical teen angst style YA novel, doesn't it?  But both Gabe and Jessa have super human powers that they have kept secret for years.  Gabe is literally allergic to lies--when someone lies to him, he gets a migraine and a rusty taste in his mouth, and he can hear the truth in the liar's mind.  This does not mean that he can read minds generally--only when someone lies.  As you might imagine, just being in high school bombards him with lies all day long.

Jessa has incredible strength.  She has to be careful when she opens a door that she doesn't destroy the doorknob.  When she hugs her friends she has to hold back so she doesn't break bones.  She has never even kissed a boy because she's afraid of what might happen if she loses control.

Reluctantly, Gabe agrees to help Jessa look for Watts, and they eventually uncover a secret genetic experiment begun by Deacon, a mad man trying to create an army of superior humans.  Gabe is a Spotter, part of an attempt to create human lie detectors that is considered a failure since the Spotters are also compulsive about telling the truth.  Jessa is a Nuke, genetically manipulated before birth and enhanced with nanobots after.  It's not too much of a surprise to discover that Watts is also a Nuke, and that he and Jessa are meant to mate and create the next generation of Nukes.  The Spotters, however, are to be exterminated.

On the run from Deacon and his henchmen, Jessa and Gabe soon learn that they can trust no one but each other.  But as they become more comfortable with each other, an attraction begins to build.  They influence and change each other, as Jessa becomes a bit kinder and gentler, and Gabe begins to stand up for himself and for her.

I found this a very intriguing and exciting novel--it was very hard to put it down, especially once we began to learn about Jessa and Gabe's origins and how far-reaching the conspiracy goes.  I did feel that the ending was a bit abrupt, and a solution was a little too pat.  Still, it did not ruin my enjoyment of the book as a whole.  As far as I can tell, this is a stand-alone novel, but I would welcome a sequel to see what happens next.

I read Outshine as an e-ARC from NetGalley.

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