The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.
When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.
Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.
The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.Hardcover, 384 pages
Three and a half stars: A chilling and thought provoking book.
Davy is content with her nearly perfect life. She comes from a well to do family. She is gifted with extraordinary musical talent, she has been accepted to Julliard, and she has the best boyfriend. Graduation is only a few months away, and she can't wait to start working toward her future. Everything comes crashing down when Davy learns that she has tested positive for the HTS gene, the killer gene. Those born with this gene are supposedly predisposed to violent tendencies. A few years ago, the U.S. government began testing for the killer gene and they found a significant link between violent criminals and those born with the gene. Now everyone who has the gene is being rounded up and sequestered from the general public. Davy isn't a killer and she doesn't have violent tendencies, but that doesn't matter in the eyes of those without the gene. She begins to question everything when her perfect world comes crashing down. Will Davy become a killer because of her DNA?
What I Liked:
- I love dystopians that feature a stringent and controlling government, or ones where an illness or natural disaster that has destroyed society as we know it. I like these stories because they are frightening and realistic, and I always enjoy pondering the what ifs.... Uninvited is just one of those books. It is set in 2021 in the United States, a not too distant future. The U.S. government has been forced to test for the HTS: Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. People born with the HTS gene are predisposed to violence and the statistics seem to confirm that people with the killer gene will resort to violence, it is just a matter of time. With violent crimes on the rise, the government is forced to mark the carriers and then latter isolate them from society. In no time, family and friends are quickly turning on loved ones. You might think as you read this that it isn't likely that a mother or father, friend or lover could suddenly turn their back on someone they care about because of a gene, but think again. History has shown us that this is possible. Remember the 1940's when Hitler marked Jews with yellow stars, and later shipped them off to concentration camps and finally executed them while the rest of the world turned a blind eye. As humans, we are easily manipulated and the scenario presented in this book is realistic and frightening. What about all the shootings we have had in schools? If the government announced tomorrow that there was a link between teen gun violence and a hereditary gene, and they wanted to test and winnow these individuals from our society, would you be opposed? Some food for thought. I thoroughly enjoyed pondering all the psychological and social implications of this book.
- The story centers around Davy. She is musical prodigy, smart, beautiful, an excellent student, she comes from a wealthy family and she has never been in trouble. All that changes when she test positive for the homicidal gene. It was disturbing to slowly watch her perfect world unravel. Her lifetime friends, boyfriend and even her own parents started to turn against her. Over time, Davy is forced due to her circumstances to tap into her so called violent tendencies. Even though she has never in her life resorted to violence before the test. Throughout the read, I was thinking on the age old nature vs. nurture debate and the self fulling prophecy. The nature/nurture debate asks whether an individual is born the way they are or if they are a product of their environment. Is a serial killer born a murderer or do they become a killer because of their environment? Of course, this debate is ongoing and it is impossible to determine whether it is strictly environment or genes. This book takes the genetic stand point and immediately assumes that every individual born with the HTS gene will automatically become violent sometime in their life. Davy is an example of someone who may be born with a bad gene but she hasn't let it influence her life, until people start shunning her and treating her like a violent pariah. At this point, the self fulfilling prophecy comes into play, and I began to see the implications of lumping everyone together because of their genetics. If you take someone who has never been violent and tell them time and time again that they will become violent because of their genes and start treating them like they are a ticking time bomb, it isn't a surprise when that person starts to believe what they are being fed, thus the self fulfilling prophecy takes hold. I thought the scenarios presented in the book made a great case for both the nature vs. nurture and the self fulfilling prophecy. I only wished that the author had brought them up in the book.
- It was fascinating watching Davy lose everything, and then seeing her dig deep inside and refuse to believe that she was a violent killer. Even when she is forced to tap into her violent nature, she still never lets it rule her. I liked seeing her grow and change and watching her let go of some false prejudices especially where Sean is concerned.
- Speaking of Sean, I thought he was a great character, though I wanted to know so much more about him. At first meeting, he comes across as a marked, bad boy who doesn't give a damn about society and the rules. He has been dealt a bad hand in life and he knows it. However, as his tough persona is scratched away, you see that he is a young man who everyone gave up on and he has done his damnedest to rise above his background. He isn't the bad boy you think once you get to know him. Under the tough guy exterior, there is a kind, gentle soul who is always looking out for others. I loved getting to know him.
- The romance was realistic and believable. It is a case of opposites attract. In the beginning, Davy is frightened and a bit repulsed, but also curious about Sean. As everyone she loves starts turning their back on her, she draws strength and courage from Sean. It takes the entire book before something ignites, and I liked that. There is no insta love or love triangles. It is a romance born out of friendship and trust. A well done romance in the YA genre for sure!
- One of my favorite aspects was the snippets at the beginning of each chapter. Sometimes they were documents or correspondence from the government regarding the HTS. There were emails, conversations, text messages and news paper articles as well, each giving a bit more information into the whole HTS controversy. I thought they were informative and interesting, and I liked the way they were incorporated into the story.
And The Not So Much:
- As much as I liked the idea of the whole HTS gene, it was not thoroughly detailed. I don't know if they author intended it this way because she plans on revealing more as the story goes along or if it was just something you were supposed to take at face value like the rest of society. I wanted to know more about why there was the sudden rise in violence since the discovery of the gene? Was the gene in the human DNA all along or was it something that was new and just cropping up? If it is new, then that leaves open the possibility of the killer gene being genetically engineered, which of course would open the story up to all kinds of frightening angles. It wasn't clear in the book whether the rise of violence was isolated to the U.S. alone or if it was worldwide. From the little information I gathered, it seemed to indicate that it was more of a problem affecting the U.S., which led me to believe that the gene might be manufactured. I would loved to know more about how the scientists found this gene and how it worked. Since the whole story is based on this killer gene, it needs a firm foundation, and what I got was shaky at best.
- As I discussed earlier, part of the draw for me was being able to ponder all the psychological implications of the nature vs. nurture and self fulfilling prophecy. At no point in the book does the author recognize these ideas. If you are not familiar with these well known principles, then you might miss the impact of the story. I have a background in psychology so to me it was fascinating, but for someone who is younger and yet to study these concepts, it would be lost. I hope in the next installment, the author brings these up as I think they make a huge impact on the story.
- The book ends abruptly on a to be continued note. It isn't exactly a cliffhanger, but it does end at a major turning point in the story. There is little resolution and most of the major issues are unresolved. It is always a bit disappointing to me to read an entire book for little pay out at the end.
Uninvited is a frightening and chilling story that exposes how quickly humanity as a whole can shun someone who receives a label as being different. While I thought overall the story was well done, I wished that the author had taken the time to bring in the nature vs. nurture debate which is in essence the heart of her story. If you do read this, ask yourself is someone born a killer or are do they become a killer because of their environment, or is it both? If you go in with this in your head, it will be a much more impactful read.
"The ink-black band almost an inch wide. The circled H. It reminds me of a cattle brand. Dark. Deep. Permanent. Once you see that, it's the only thing you see. Not the person. And that's the purpose. The person doesn't matter. It's no longer who. It's what."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.