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The secret under my skin
Janet McNaughton
Teen Fiction MCNAUGH

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From Publishers' Weekly:

McNaughton's (An Earthly Knight) novel, a portrait of a chilly dystopia, eloquently juggles a pair of cautionary messages. In the year 2368, teenage narrator Blay Raytee works in the landfill mines, digging for remnants of the human society that was devastated by a manmade, technology-induced ecological disaster. When Marrella, the new "bio-indicator" (a person who makes forays into the poisonous atmosphere of the outside), chooses Blay as her assistant, the teen learns that much of what she knows about the world is a lie. McNaughton draws parallels between today's society and this future world; for instance, the "technocaust" indeed happened, but the ruling party uses its recent threat to control the populace through fear. Blay learns, thanks to a microchip described by the title, that her actual name is Blake Raintree, and her "Object" (a cassette tape ), which she has clutched from the time she was set on the streets as a toddler, contains the secret of who she is and clues to her parents' identity. The heroine grows more likable as the story moves along and becomes more self-aware and optimistic. The narrative's present tense gives each of Blay's discoveries a sense of immediacy. In addition to the front-and-center allegory on the environment, McNaughton hints at man's willingness to hurt each other en masse through the use of the word "technocaust" and talk of concentration camps. A thought-provoking novel. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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main characters Blay Raytee
Lives in a work camp for the homeless; digs through garbage dumps; discovers she has a natural talent for science; realizes she was misled by her society.

She is a bio-indictator, an individual whose body reacts to poisons in the environment thus making them ideal warning mechanisms; has to learn how to collect and interpret scientific data; Blay tutors her.

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