Title: Uninvited (Homicidal Tendency Book 1)
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 2014
Senior Davy Hamilton seems to have an ideal life – she is attractive and funny and smart, she is dating the extremely desirable rugby player Zac at the elite Everton Academy, and she has been accepted to Julliard in the fall. When she gets a call to come home immediately, her brother Mitchell first comes to her mind. Mitchell is a classic example of a troublemaker; he has had issues at school, in jobs, and in life, and if anyone is going to be a problem, it is Mitchell. However, when she arrives home, Mr. Pollock is there with her parents, and it isn’t Mitchell he is after, it is Davy.
In 2021 in an effort to eradicate the world of violence toward other persons, the Surgeon General has created a blood test to determine who carries HTS. Studies have shown that carriers of Homicidal Tendency Syndrome have a clear correlation with extreme violent behavior. All HTS carriers are required by law to be registered and monitored; their interaction with normal citizens is highly limited and regulated. And, Davy carries the gene.
In 24 hours, she is processed and sent to the public high school. At Keller, she must wear a neon-orange tag that identifies her carrier status. She is placed in a room referred to as “The Cage” with five other HTS carriers and must do all her schoolwork independently. All movement in and out of the room is monitored by Mr. Brockman, a glorified babysitter. Davy quickly discovers that there are no rules in The Cage and it is truly every man for him . . . or her . . . self. It is in the cage that Davy learns what the “H” tattoo represents; a fellow student named Sean has one imprinted on his neck, proof of his violent past. However, Sean may be the only one Davy can trust.
When Davy tries to return to her prior life and attends a party with Zac, the results are disastrous and it becomes very evident to Davy that her future will be different from anything she has ever imagined.
I attended the Texas Teen Book Festival in Austin and was able to meet and speak with author Sophie Jordan. I was so intrigued by her discussion of the book that I had to read it. First let me say that it is a teen book; although I enjoyed the story and the premise, it is written in such a way that will more likely appeal to teens and may not transfer as well to adult readers. That being said, I did enjoy it enough that I plan to read the next in the series.
In today’s modern culture you can’t turn on the news without hearing about violence done toward others both on an individual and wide-spread scale. The concept that violence could have genetic manifestations is not a new one but the author has taken the idea and given it political and regulatory implications. This could really be a fascinating topic to discuss with young adults: do some people have an inherent tendency toward violence and should they be separated from the rest of society? Then, on the flip side of this discussion, how much of who we are is ruled by thoughts and genetics versus the choices we make. It harkens back to my most favorite quote from Harry Potter when Dumbledore states that “it is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” The former English teacher in me gets very excited by this kind of potential discussion and how it can be correlated to some great classic novels, such as A Separate Peace, The Great Gatsby, and The Catcher in the Rye. Eeek!! Makes me wish I was back in the classroom!
Who might like this book:
As I said, the writing style and voice is definitely geared toward young adults and that may not appeal to all adult readers. What I do think is appealing that this is NOT a dystopian novel; while set just a few years in the future, the basic foundation for the actions in the novel are very believable and quite a bit frightening. What the author asks the reader to do is to think about our society and where it might be headed; what choices do we have to make a different future?