Monday's Muse, 49th edition.

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): Blinding by Florence + The Machine.

The idea of Monday's Muse is to introduce you to unknown, forgotten, or overlooked fiction that has been lost from regular radar. I am WriterGirl. I am in the business of saving lives, one book at a time.

What I do is go to one of several places, narrow it down to a YA field and type in a random word, any word that comes to mind. I then take a sampling of some I have never heard of before, or only vaguely heard of (and hopefully you as well). No infringement is intended for any description I take for the books. It's purely for promotional reasons. I will try and cover as many genres as possible that are fitting for the random word. Simple but it really uncovers some incredible gems. I will be doing this every other Monday. If there are any words you want to prompt me with, go ahead and fire away.

Today's random word:

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.

Matteo Alacran was not Born; He was Harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium -- a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt's first cell split and divided inside a petri dish. Then he was placed in the womb of a cow, where he continued the miraculous journey from embryo to fetus to baby. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster -- except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patron's power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive. But escape from the Alacran Estate is no guarantee of freedom, because Matt is marked by his difference in ways he doesn't even suspect.

The Clone Codes by Patricia and Frederick McKissack.

The Cyborg Wars are over and Earth has peacefully prospered for more than one hundred years. Yet sometimes history must repeat itself until humanity learns from its mistakes. In the year 2170, despite technological and political advances, cyborgs and clones are treated no better than slaves, and an underground abolitionist movement is fighting for freedom. Thirteen-year-old Leanna's entire life is thrown into chaos when The World Federation of Nations discovers her mom is part of the radical Liberty Bell Movement.

After her mother is arrested for treason, Leanna is chased by a ruthless bounty hunter. Soon Leanna finds herself living among the Firsts, and nothing will ever be the same. With help from unlikely sources, Leanna learns The origin of the Liberty Bell Movement and how its members may have answers about her past and her new reality.

Alex Unlimited, Vol. 1: The Vosarak Code by Dan Jolley.

Alexandra Benno has a unique talent: she can instantly summon parallel-dimension versions of herself. But these duplicates are always super-idealized: smart, fast, tough, and often the most beautiful girls in their world--while Alex herself is clumsy, frizzy-haired, and has the body of a twelve-year-old boy! So when the government recruits Alex for top-secret espionage work, it's always her idealized version who gets the action and, consequently, receives all the credit. Sick of being her own sidekick, will Alex be able to crack the Vosarak Code and complete her latest mission . . . or is she destined to live in her own shadow? With pluck and wonder at every turn, Dan Jolley’s smart and action-packed novel series takes the reader on one unforgettable adventure after the next.

Emily the Strange: Stranger and Stranger (Book 2 of the Emily the Strange Series) by Rob Reger.

Emily the Strange, evil genius and skateboarder extraordinaire, has invented many things in her time—golems, working cat translators, great names for bands. But the duplication device may have been a mistake, especially when an accident produces an identical Emily. At first OtherMe is cool and useful, but it quickly becomes apparent that she is evil and will take over the world if not stopped. Emily's second journal, a sequel to The Lost Days (HarperCollins, 2009), is a dark delight, filled with all kinds of Strangeness: a broken leg, a Strange Manifesto that causes the entire town to go loony, an ex-spymaster neighbor, and an oddly understanding and absurdly patient mother, all described with demented wit and great relish, and accompanied by manga-style black-and-white cartoons. Does it all make sense? No, not really. Does it matter? Not at all. Fans of the first book and newcomers alike will thoroughly enjoy the zaniness and clamor for more.—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library, School Library Journal.

Star Split by Kathryn Lasky.

Thirteen-year-old Darci lives in a future of near genetic perfection. In the year 3028, gene research has reached such heights that terminal diseases no longer exist and celebrated scientists and artists are chosen for "umbellation," or cloning, so that their great brains can live on forever. In Darci's society, genetic laws are made by the Bio Union, a governmental agency that closely tracks all genetic research and severely punishes those who dare to commit the worst crime of all: illegal umbellation. Despite all this, Darci's life is a normal one, if not somewhat boring. After all, she knows all of her traits intimately--she has extensively studied her own DNA and that of her family. What fascinates her is the past, when life wasn't so predictable, "a time of cripples and geniuses ... a time of grace and mystery when not all could be controlled and not all known." Darci soon discovers that she herself has been cloned. Not knowing if or when she will be found out, Darci fears for her life and wonders for the first time about the meaning behind a long-extinct word: soul.

With Star Split, author Kathryn Lasky makes a dramatic departure from her usual historical-fiction fare. Though the story has a few unexplained holes--mostly due to the complicated scientific nature of the setting--Lasky's plot is so thought-provoking that teens won't be able to put it down until Darci's fate is decided. This is an excellent book for teens dealing with the implications of a new millennium. --Jennifer Hubert, Amazon review.

Taylor Five by Ann Halam.

Taylor Walker seems like any ordinary 14-year-old. Ordinary—if you overlook the fact that she lives on the island of Borneo, on a primate reserve run by her parents, and knows how to survive in the jungle. Obviously, Tay isn’t just like everyone else. But she is like one other person. She’s exactly like one other person. Tay is a clone, one of only five in the world, and her clone mother is Pam Taylor, a brilliant scientist.

When rebels attack the reserve, Tay escapes with her younger brother and Uncle, an exceptionally intelligent orangutan. As they flee through the jungle, Tay must look within to find her strength: Pam’s DNA, tempered by Taylor’s extraordinary life. And she looks to Uncle for guidance—for Tay knows that the uncanny bond between Uncle and herself is the key to their survival.

The Bar Code Rebellion (Book 2 of Bar Code Tattoo duology) by Suzanne Weyn.

The second book in the action-packed Bar Code series.

They want your identity. They want your freedom. They can't have them. The bar code rebellion.

Kayla has resisted getting the bar code tattoo, even though it's mean forfeiting a "normal" life. Without the tattoo, she's an exile. But she can't stay an exile for long. . . .

For reasons she doesn't completely understand--but will soon discover--Kayla is at the center of a lethal conspiracy that will soon threaten the very notion of freedom. Kayla can either give in to the bar code, or she can join the resistance and fight it. The choice, for her, is clear.

The Lab by Jack Heath.

Meet a 16-year-old superhuman: Agent Six of Hearts. He's the strongest, most effective agent in the Deck, a team of special agents fighting to uphold justice in a completely corrupt world. Six would be invincible if not for a deadly secret. He is the product of an illegal experiment by the Lab - a ruthless division of the corporation that controls his world. When the Deck begins to investigate the Lab, Six walks a tightrope between his two worlds, trying to keep his origin a secret.

Duplikate by Cherry Cheva.

To Do List:

Ace SATs
Ace finals
Ace AP physics project
Avoid murdering lab partner
Submit Yale application
Resolve possibly evil twin situation

Due date: December 15th
Countdown: 11 days

By the time Kate Larson accidentally fell asleep at three a.m., she'd already done more work in one night than the average high school senior does in a week. Getting into Yale has been her dream for years—and being generally overworked and totally under-rested is the price of admission. But when she opens her eyes the next day, she comes face-to-face with, well, her face—which is attached to her body, which is standing across the room. Wait, what?

Meet Kate's computer-generated twin. Kate doesn't know why she's here or how to put her back where she belongs, but she's real. And she's the last thing Kate has time to deal with right now. Unless . . .

Could having a double be the answer to Kate's prayers? After all, two Kates can do more work than one. Or will keeping her twin a secret turn her dream future into a living nightmare?

Blueprint by Charlotte Kerner, translated by Elizabeth D. Crawford.

Siri is the daughter/twin of Iris and one of the first cloned beings in this seamless translation of German author Kerner's exploration of the psychological reality for cloned humans. A famous pianist and composer, Iris discovers she has Multiple Sclerosis and decides that a child/clone will ensure her immortality. She talks a geneticist into creating the first human clone by implanting her with her own cloned cell. As time goes by, the pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence of Siri are described almost solely focused on the emotional impact of the impossible closeness and the antagonism of the blended egos. Games of"Iyou" and"YouI" become increasingly painful as the child separates from the parent, whose monstrous egotism continues to expect an alternative self for her own use. There is much musing from Siri, who recounts her life in beautifully cadenced and expressive prose. Upon Iris's death there is a miraculous transformation in Siri's life that seems pulled out of thin air and not from Siri's psyche. Until that epilogue the story maintains a steady, wearying descent into frustration and despair at never being loved for who you are, never quite knowing what is your own doing and what is compelled by your genetic code. It is never clear how much of her pain is the result of cloning and how much the result of Iris's ego. Observers of this"monster," as she is called by her grandmother, may debate the ethical questions, ponder the personal dilemmas, and imagine alternative responses, but they will not question the premise. Disturbing and unsettling, this is less a translation of a particular culture than a human face on a question that is intriguing worldwide.--Kirkus.

Afterschool Charisma by Kumiko Suekane.

St. Kleio Academy is a very exclusive school: all of the students are clones of famous historical figures such as Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth I, Napoleon, Mozart, and Freud. All of them, that is, except for Shiro Kamiya. As Shiro struggles to adapt to this unusual campus, St. Kleio's first graduate, the clone of John F. Kennedy, is killed. Are the clones doomed to repeat the fate of their genetic progenitors, or can they create their own destinies? And how does a normal boy like Shiro fit in?

The Goodness Gene by Sonia Levitin.

It's the future (2207) and the world has gone through a devastating chaos; now a seemingly benign dictator is in charge. He has twin sons, who are approaching adulthood, being groomed to share the power with their father. Will is a good speaker, charismatic; Berk is aggressive and somewhat ruthless. Theirs is a world in which an elite group of humans make all the decisions. They live in a highly sheltered environment, drinking nutritional drinks instead of what we would call food, enjoying symsex instead of having physical contact with others, and generally are divorced from reality. The story gets really interesting about a third of the way through when Will travels to another region and learns some hard truths about his own existence: that he and his brother are actually clones of Adolf Hitler. Will meets a rebellious underground group who are trying to keep to old values, such as growing actual food and eating it, protecting children from mercy killing at the whim of the authorities, and thinking for themselves.--Kliatt.

Avril Crump and Her Amazing Clones by Angela Woolfe.

Avril Crump, female scientist, is bald, pink, and round, with a weakness for sweets, whose greatest love of all is chemistry, science, the quest for knowledge, and using that chemistry to fix the world's ills. But one day, while Avril is helping herself to a yummy snack, she accidentally stumbles upon a scientific experiment gone awry. When her uncle's old chemistry set collides with a mysterious metal trunk, three clones are created in the accidental explosion. And with this laboratory accident, Avril's adventure begins. She must save her new friends, the clones, from their own creator.

Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

So my only protection is a kindergarten teacher and a ninety-eight-pound female minister....And they don't even believe I'm in danger.

As Bethany approaches her thirteenth birthday, her parents act more oddly than usual. Her mother cries constantly, and her father barely lets Bethany out of his sight. Then one morning he hustles the entire family into the car, drives across several state lines -- and leaves Bethany with an aunt she never knew existed. Bethany has no idea what's going on. She's worried her mom and dad are running from some kind of trouble, but she can't find out because they won't tell her where they are going.

Bethany's only clue is a few words she overheard her father tell her aunt: "She doesn't know anything about Elizabeth." But Aunt Myrlie won't tell Bethany who Elizabeth is, and she won't explain why people in her small town react to Bethany as if they've seen a ghost. The mystery intensifies when Bethany gets a package from her father containing four different birth certificates from four different states, with four different last names -- and thousands of dollars in cash. And when a strange man shows up asking questions, Bethany realizes she's not the only one who's desperate to unravel the secrets of her past.


Charmaine Clancy said...

Wow, there's some pretty cool books in this collection, I really like the sound of Double Identity.
Wagging Tales