Sixteen-year-old Silver Melody lives in a world where 80% of the population has modified their DNA. Known as the altereds, those people now possess enhancements like wings, tails, and increased strength or intelligence. Although Silver’s parents created the nanite pill used to deliver these genetic modifications, Silver is proud of her unadjusted state.
However, when the president declares all unadjusteds must take a nanite, Silver has no choice but to flee the city with her father and some friends to prevent the extinction of the unadjusteds.
With Silver’s mother in prison for treason, Silver’s father is the unadjusteds’ only hope at finding a cure. But time is running out as Silver’s father is captured by the president’s almost immortal army. Vicious hellhounds are on Silver’s trail, and her only chance to recover her father involves teaming up with a new group of unlikely friends before all humanity is lost.
Hi and welcome to my review of The Unadjusteds!
The Unadjusteds is a YA dystopian story set in a world that doesn’t differ much from ours, except that 80% of the people are genetically modified, adjusted, altered. Altering your appearance, intelligence or abilities has never been easier, all it takes is a little pill, a so-called nanite. Originally created to help cure cancer and other illnesses and diseases, nanites are now mostly used to change appearances (all sorts of wings, snakeskin, you name it and there’s a nanite for it) and/or to gain abilities (speed, strength, jumping powers, swimming like a fish, …), in other words, animal traits have become available to humans, through nanites with animal DNA. There’s a downside too (although why anyone would want to sprout horns is beyond me and seems to me like a downside all on its own): sometimes the human body reacts badly to a nanite and dies.
The Unadjusteds jumps right into the action. There’s little introduction, not much world-building before the actual story kicks off. Instead, we learn about the world and the nanites through present-day events and through ponderings of main character Silver Melody. I enjoyed the swiftness of The Unadjusteds, the fact that we’re told so little and shown so much and that we learn about what’s been happening, (re)living it through Silver. It was Silver’s parents who developed the nanite technology, but at one point, her mother had moral qualms and refused to carry on her work, and she was arrested. Now, Silver and her dad don’t know if she’s even alive, and they are both monitored carefully.
Silver is likeable enough, although I did have some issues with her popularity and her sudden status of being unmissable, and I found her perhaps a little formulaic. I did like that she’s one of the unadjusteds, she hasn’t taken any nanites and has no special abilities and wishes to remain so, and she’s prepared for battle, has been ever since her mother was arrested, but at the same time, she’s not at all prepared for the things that are happening. This is where telling you more would be a massive spoiler, so that’s all I’ll say about that!
The extravagance in this world, people wanting to stand out regardless of the consequences, reminded me of The Hunger Games, more precisely of the people in the Capital. And that’s not where the similarities end, since The Unadjusteds also has a girl standing up to an evil president. (Although this president has both bear and black widow DNA which makes him even worse, I’d say).
I would have liked a little more info about the scientific side of things. DNA being so easily manipulated raised some questions that I didn’t find answered within the pages of The Unadjusteds, and there were some bits that didn’t make sense to me, even assuming DNA could be easily modified, but still I enjoyed spending time in this world, discovering the possibilities. It left me wondering and pondering, long after I’d turned the final page: would people be crazy enough to want this (I’m thinking they would), would a government find a way to take advantage of a technology such as this one (very likely, I’d say), would I take a nanite, and if so, which (I’m quite sure I would, if curing MS were as easy as taking a small pill, I don’t think I’d hesitate. But I would definitely not take anything with animal DNA!)
Overall, an entertaining read that I probably would have enjoyed a little more if I had been a little younger and a little less jaded. If kids with special powers are your bag, do check this one out!
Many thanks to Marisa Noelle for the eARC! All opinions are my own.