cover image Pucker


Melanie Gideon, Author Razorbill $16.99 (273p) ISBN 978-1-59514-055-5

This suspenseful, well-paced science fiction novel introduces a lonely 17-year-old, isolated because of his disfigurement. Thomas Quicksilver, nicknamed ""Pucker"" because of his badly burned face (he says he has ""the face of a wizened geriatric"") embarks on what he believes to be a dangerous mission. His childhood home was Isaura (""a sister world clinging to Earth like a parasite""), where his parents were Seers, people who could see the future because they had a second skin. At age eight, Thomas's face becomes badly burned in a housefire, when the Isaurian Ministry leaves his father dead and his mother barely conscious after flaying both adults' second skin. Escaping to Earth, Thomas's mother, Serena, supports them by telling people's fortunes until she is exhausted and near death. Serena begs Thomas to return to Isaura, to save her life by finding her second skin. On Isaura, Thomas becomes one of the Changed, people recruited from America's ill or disfigured population, then magically cured by the Maker to work in Isaura's labor force. For the first time in nine years, Thomas is desirable. His search for his mother's skin slows as he realizes that he will have to choose between his beauty and life on Earth, where he will return to his former self and be known once again as Pucker. Readers will identify with Thomas's honest voice and the difficult choices he must confront. Gideon (The Map That Breathed) has once again crafted a thought-provoking novel set in an alternate universe. Ages 12-up.