Swain, H.A. Gifted, 325 pages. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2016. $18. Language: PG-13 (60 swears); Mature Content: G: Violence: PG (mention of suicide).
Orpheus lives a privileged life as the son of the man who figured out how to charge people for ever single time they play a song. Zimri, however, is barely holding life together, caring for her grandmother alone by working in a giant warehouse that delivers luxuries and minutiae to those with the money to buy. Zimri keeps heart and soul together by playing secret concerts. Orpheus runs out of his home when his father pushes him to get his ASA (Acquired Savant Ability) – the only way people can get rich and famous in Orpheus’ circles. He runs into Zimri and sparks happen – change is a comin’!
The romance is not the highlight of Swain next awesome offering (if you haven’t read “Hungry” yet, go get it now). Instead it’s the combination of plot and characters and world-building that hold the limelight. Somethings are outright hilarious – school is SQEWL (Special Quality Education for WorkForce Life) and Orpheus goes to the Kardashian SQEWL for Future Celebutantes. Also you know the novel is set in the near future, because Taylor Swift dies at the age of 100. Swain weaves a conceivable future controlled by Amazon, drones, celebrity status and an ITunes-like music mogul.
MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.