Title: The Amber Project (The Variant Saga #1)
Author: J.N. Chaney
Published Date: April 14th 2015
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Scifi
***THIS BOOK WAS PROVIDED TO NERD GIRL IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW***
In 2157, a mysterious gas known as Variant spreads across the globe, killing or mutating most organic life. The surviving humans take refuge in an underground city, determined to return home. But after generations of failures and botched attempts, hope is beginning to dwindle. That is, until a young scientist makes a unique discovery—and everything changes. Suddenly, there’s reason to hope again, and it rests within a group of genetically engineered children that are both human and Variant.
Terry is one of these children, modified and trained to endure the harsh conditions of a planet he cannot begin to understand. After years of preparation, Terry thinks he knows what to expect. But the reality is far stranger than anything he can imagine—and what he will become is far more dangerous.
J.N. Chaney is an amazing story teller. From the very beginning the book tells you only a few details about what is really going on, while weaving a story of what is presently happening. Terry, at the beginning is a seven year old boy celebrating his first birthday. This is the day he will go to school. His mother torn with having to leave him at this school brings him and goes on about her merry way leaving him in the hands of the government. One of the many things I loved about this book is how the time stream isn’t just chronological. A lot of the story is told through flashbacks and little hints about why the earth has become like this and why all these kids are special. Then, right back to the present time where Terry is training at the school and being used as a guinea pig with the gas Variant that is toxic and litters the surface.
This is a really good read for young adults. There was just enough action spritzed in with mystery and government unrest to keep all readers engaged. The only hiccup that I had was the pacing. About half the book takes place below surface and you are following Terry and his classmates, and then you are following his mother and her moves, and then back to Terry and then the government. There were so many different points of view that I got lost trying to remember every person and their motives. You have the crazy scientist who only wants his project to succeed, the top government official who wants glory and to be known as the man who returned humans to the surface, then you have the mother who wants what is best for all the children and then the children themselves who are eager to get to the surface. There was just too much going on for me to truly get into the characters and feel anything for them. Also, it took a long time to get to the part that to me was the best part. What the children found on the surface and how it affects the rest of the story.
The plot was brilliant, and the twist definitely caught me off guard which is hard to do because I am pretty good at figuring everything out. I gave this book a four out of five stars because it really was an amazing story and it was unique in how the reader gets to the final conclusion. When I first looked at the synopsis I was thinking the story was going to take place on the surface and we would find out all the bad things that have happened to the Earth because of this Variant gas. What I got was really a background into how humans would adapt to an event like this, and the psychology behind what people are willing to do to promote themselves as saviors. I would definitely recommend this book to my students.
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