As an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.
The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.
"THE UNITED NORTHERN ALLIANCE
SIX YEARS LATER
AS OUR BUS APPROACHES the Harka Museum of Re-education, I peer out the window at the soldiers standing out front in the sculpture gardens. The sculptures are just broken remnants, long ago smashed under combat boots. The flagpole flies our nation’s flag, an eye hovering over a globe branded with the letters UNA, the abbreviation used by everyone for the United Northern Alliance.
The driver parks on a circular driveway in front of the museum’s entrance, and I look up. Marble columns sweep fifty feet toward a pediment that still bears old scars from rebel mortar attacks.
There’s only one day left until I’m forced to take the Government Personality Profile Test—GPPT for short—which is why our class is on this field trip. The trip is meant to show us what happens to kids who fail the test.
A heavyset woman in a gray uniform stands up near the front of the bus as the door opens. It’s Ms. Baines, our Social Reconstruction teacher. She ushers our class out of the vehicle and into the hot sun. We stand on the asphalt, a diverse throng of kids. Everyone, rich or poor, orphan or not, goes through the same public school system in the UNA.
“This way, class,” Ms. Baines orders. We follow her up a wide stone staircase, toward the massive front door of the museum that beckons like a hungry mouth. Inside, it’s dark and cool.
The Harka Museum once held some of our state’s greatest works of art. Now, like most museums, it’s a shrine to our government and its leader, Minister Roland Harka. Instead of paintings, the walls display digital maps of the United Northern Alliance’s global conquests. Armies are rendered as colorful dots, and battles as pixelated cubes.
Being in this museum makes me think about our nation’s complicated history. At sixteen, I’m too young to remember what a real museum was even like. I only remember reading about them, before most books and digital media were withdrawn from circulation. That happened when I was eight, two years before my parents got taken, and just three years after the formation of the United Northern Alliance—a merger of Canada, the United States, and Mexico into one vast, chaotic nation.
From what my mom and dad told me, the citizens of those countries weren’t in favor of the alliance. But food was scarce after a global economic meltdown, and people were turning to violent crime. So the government leaders made the radical decision to create the UNA.
When angry citizens rebelled, military police used lethal force to stop the demonstrations. The demonstrations turned into riots, and then into total anarchy as people turned against their own government.
Every week our building would shake as a car bomb detonated somewhere, and I’d often fall asleep at night listening to the crack of gunfire. That was when Roland Harka, a charismatic four-star general, took office by force and appointed himself prime minster of the UNA. For life. . . .(READ MORE)
I love this cover and the book sounds fantastic!
Have you read it???
"No story lives on unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen. Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." -- J.K. Rowling