cover image Star Split

Star Split

Kathryn Lasky. Hyperion Books, $15.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0459-7

Lasky (Alice Rose & Sam) provocatively explores the ethics of genetic engineering in this well-plotted novel set in the year 3038. Like everyone she knows, 13-year-old Darci Murlowe is a Genhant, or Genetically Enhanced Human, implanted with a 48th chromosome. But Darci is fascinated by ""Originals,"" people whose ancestors could not afford to get extra genetic material, and she unhappily wonders if her DNA, so carefully chosen by her parents, has compromised her ability to determine her own future. These concerns shrink in the face of a shocker--Darci runs into a clone of herself, living evidence that her parents must have committed the capital crime of ""duplication."" The author maintains taut suspense even as she outlines the technological underpinnings of Darci's futuristic society. There are some weak spots (a hasty resolution, an implausible similarity between the social structure of the fourth millennium and that of today), but on the whole this is gripping fare. An afterword explains that every one of the genetic engineering strategies mentioned in the novel is based on techniques currently available or in developmental stages; thus tipping the balance in her science fiction toward science, Lasky leaves readers with plenty of food for thought. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)