The Secret Under my Skin, by Janet McNaughton

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Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) In the year 2368, humanity struggles to recuperate from a technocaust that has left a generation of orphans in its wake. Strict government regulations convince people that technology is dangerous; confusion and fear rule the earth.

Blay Raytee is a government work-camp orphan. Her future seems as bleak as that of the world around her. But when she is chosen for a special mission by a guardian of the environment named Marrella, Blay begins to discover that all may not be as it seems. The secrets she uncovers could hold the key both to the healing of the world and to her own past. What she learns may just empower her to join those who struggle to restore democracy — and to discover at last who she really is.

Master storyteller Janet McNaughton vividly imagines an all-too-believable future where one child’s brave search for the truth could restore a broken world.

Thoughts: This novel shows an interesting and not entirely unbelievable vision of the future, after the world has been ruined due to pollution. People blaming everyone else, a government struggling to stay in power by fear and tight controls, and everyone, including young children, is put to work in some fashion.

McNaughton weaves an interesting future in her novel, and throws in a lot of little details that sometimes go missing in other YA novels, such as the issue of, well, clothing. In a world where technology is feared and tightly controlled, it’s not as though people can just run down to a department store and grab a new sweater. As such, the presence of the Weavers’ Guild, and the cultural meanings of things like knitting and other aspects of textile creation, are thrown into the forefront as seen as essential skills. Weavers are given high respect, and as such hold more than a small degree of power.

There’s more than one story going on here, as it is with most good books. There’s the story of Marella and her struggles to become a bio-indicator with Blay’s help, and then there’s the story of Blay trying to find out more about her past and just who she is. Side-by-side, the tale is a rich one that comes alive with ease, and draws you in.

The biggest shame about this book is that it’s so short. I hear there’s a sequel, and I suspect I’m going to have to track it down sooner rather than later, as I enjoyed this book so much. Definitely a recommend to fans of YA futuristic stories, and to those who enjoy hints of an interesting dystopia.

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