cover image Subject Seven

Subject Seven

James A. Moore, Razorbill, $9.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-59514-304-4

Adult writer Moore (Deeper) makes a solid YA debut with this grisly mix of conspiracy novel and body horror fiction. When the titular preteen subject of a secret experiment escapes from the lab, he manages to survive on the streets, thanks to his genetically enhanced fighting abilities. Five years later, Seven discovers other failed experiments who have been adopted into families, and uses his skills to awaken their violent alter egos. Moore's hidden killers are physically different—the teens morph into better, faster, stronger superhumans when their nicer personalities are endangered. The resulting conflict between the "normal" humans and their murderous internal selves—exacerbated by the fact that the kids are unaware of their alter egos' actions—forms the story's primary source of conflict, although external antagonists, led by Evelyn, the head of the lab, who was widowed in Seven's escape, also provide targets (and add to the body count). There are the usual plot holes associated with this genre, but Moore nicely juggles the Jekyll and Hyde aspects of his characters, adding a human element to the often brutal violence, while setting up a sequel. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)