[alert variation=”alert-info”]Publisher: Outskirts Press
Formats: Paperback, eBook, Kindle
Purchase: Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks[/alert]

A plane crashes and kills 541 passengers but leaves one mysterious girl unscathed. Kazumi, the mysterious girl, is physically unharmed but has lost all her memories prior to the accident and has no known family. Deemed homeless and a ward of the state, Kazumi is destined for a group home until she’s offered an option that leads elsewhere. Enter the Sarcomeres. Named after the basic unit of a muscle, the Sarcomeres are genetically enhanced humans with genes that make them superhumanly fast, strong, and resilient to harm. Given Kazumi’s physically sound state after the plane crash, it is suspected by the recruiting members of the Sarcomeres that she possesses the gene that qualifies one as a Sarcomere. At the Sarcomeres’ secret facility, Kazumi meets Finnegan “Finn” O’Riley, a member of the Elite Sarcomeres. The Sarcomeres are engaged in a war with the Neuronics, gifted humans with telekinesis and mind-control abilities. However, as Kazumi begins to find her place in the Sarcomeres’ ranks, her memories of before the accident begin coming back. Little do the Sarcomeres know, Kazumi’s past hides more than they expected, and when it begins to catch up with her present, the future of the Sarcomeres comes to depend on Kazumi more than ever.

As of late, dystopian young adult novels have surged up to the top ranks of book lists. In this trend’s wake, novels including The Hunger Games and Divergent have become some of the more popular of this genre. However, after reading Shadow of Deception, opinions about which series truly is the best may be altered. Set in chaotic North America, Shadow of Deception mirrors many of the same elements of other recent dystopian novels, such as survival, uprisings, and factions, as well as components of romance and coming-of-age narratives. Johnson intricately weaves together the underground war between the Sarcomeres and the Neuronics with winding threads of emotion and plot twists. Action-filled pages are not lost; for those who enjoy detailed scenes of action, Johnson portrays quite a few in vivid colors. Kazumi’s character speaks personally to the reader, demonstrating her struggles with her lack of memories and with personal decisions. Her personality is genuine, having been gifted with human beliefs and emotions by Johnson. While the intricacy of both plot and character speak volumes, both can be somewhat confusing at times if not read carefully.

For fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent, as well as any other novels in the dystopian genre, Shadow of Deception should be next on the reading list.

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