25689031 Gifted by H.A. Swain

**This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley, release date 6/14/16.

Summary from Goodreads:

In Orpheus Chanson’s world, geniuses and prodigies are no longer born or honed through hard work. Instead, procedures to induce Acquired Savant Abilities (ASAs) are now purchased by the privileged. And Orpheus’s father holds the copyright to the ASA procedure.
Zimri Robinson, a natural musical prodigy, is a “plebe”–a worker at the enormous warehouse that supplies an on-line marketplace that has supplanted all commerce. Her grueling schedule and her grandmother’s illness can’t keep her from making music–even if it is illegal.
Orpheus and Zimri are not supposed to meet. He is meant for greatness; she is not. But sometimes, rules are meant to be broken. Here is a thriller, love story, and social experiment that readers will find gripping–and terrifying.

My thoughts:

I did finish this book, though I almost quit a few times because I just wasn’t excited about it. BUT, I was interested enough to find out what happened, so I guess that makes it still decent. Basically, this futuristic (but not too futuristic to be unimaginable) society is divided into Plutes and Plebes, which are like the elites and the working class. Plebes, like Zimri, work in a warehouse (ahem, Amazon) gathering items purchased by Plutes to be immediately delivered by drones…we’re getting to that point, folks. Plutes, like Orpheus, undergo a surgery as teens that gives them a special skills, like music or writing, in order to become famous and entertain the society.

The book is told in alternating viewpoints between Orpheus and Zimri as they come together under some kind of unusual circumstances. Orpheus gets to see what the world is like for those less privileged than he while working with Zimri at Amazon (oops, I mean Corp X) and learning about her life. Zimri spends a majority of the book worried about her grandmother, who has developed dementia, and how she will care for her with no extra money or help. Orpheus can relate to her a little more than he would have ever imagined as they become closer. At the same time, Orpheus has been declared missing in the Plute world and no one seems to care. Should he bother to even return or stay in Zimri’s world?

I can see some of my students finding this book really interesting, especially all the techy stuff, but I’m not sure they will make the same connections as I did as an adult reading it. It could make for some interesting discussion. With that being said, I will purchase the book for my school library, but I can’t promise that I will remember to recommend it.

My rating: 3/5


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