- Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora
Paper ed. ISBN 9781635830569 $14.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781635830576 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys R Gr. 9–12
Nate is in danger. Of course, nearly everyone is in this grim dystopia, where GEMs (humans that are actually genetically engineered medi-tissue) are created to be harvested by the ultra-rich for their healing blood. They’re starving and at risk from the ruined planet and each other, and if you can manage to find even a scrap of something that feels like solidarity or family, you had better protect it ferociously. Nate tries to, even though he is keeping his identity as a GEM secret from his ragtag chosen family. He doesn’t really think they’d turn him in for the bounty, but he also doesn’t want them to be punished for harboring him. Unfortunately, Nate needs a regular dose of a remedy, requiring him to risk capture or discovery each time he ventures out of hiding, plus he needs parts to do the steampunk-style tinkering important in keeping his group fed and safe. To be sure, this is dark stuff: bodies are stepped over, the best case scenario for most people is simply a painless death, and everything feels a half-step away from full apocalypse. This pervasive doom-tinged tone makes the rare glimmer of hope or kindness all the more poignant, and the fact that Nate has two young men in love with him plus friends who adore him is lucky indeed, particularly given his stubbornness and impulsivity. Mora deftly explores the raw impulses of humans through a foreboding lens: when faced with unimaginable obstacles some manage to strive for connection, resistance, and even love, and it is in that clawing against defeat that the most heartbreaking and memorable stories lie.