Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Tainted: Are You Ready to be Tested? YA Novel Debut Takes Readers Deep...Underground, that is! ARC-1

English: asteroid 1
English: asteroid 1 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I had a hard time envisioning the ARC. It seemed to be so huge, so comprehensive, yet so inclusive that it felt that it had been purposely designed for its present use.

But, how could that be? After all, nobody could have foreseen that an asteroid was coming that would totally destroy the earth as well as lingering radiation that prevented returning to the surface of the planet.

Or could it be that the violent nature of humanity had led some individuals to predict that some catastrophe was bound to happen and designs and actually building the huge refuge had been in the works for years... Tainted doesn't say... unless Elle's teacher had lectured on it, but she and the other students weren't listening...LOL...

After all, the history of the world had been demolished along with most residents except for the few who had been accepted into the ARC--Asteroid Refugee Compound...

Readers enter the story 15 years after everybody had entered the ARC and been closed off...completely

By Alexandra Moody

A despondent sigh escapes
 my mouth. It’s no use. I 
can’t  stop thinking about
 it—about her.
About losing the closest
thing I have to family in this
worn-out fallout shelter.
There was a time when I was afraid of being tested. It wasn’t the jab of the needle that scared me—that was nothing. Being taken away without any notice and without any goodbyes? Now, that was something to fear. It’s been years since I’ve worried about my annual testing. When you’ve lost as many people as I have, you come to terms with the possibility you too might be found tainted and taken away—but today is different. I look down at the glass cuff that encases my wrist and my heartbeat quickens as I see the time . It’s later than I thought. Only twenty minutes until the appointment now. 
My quarters are down the far end of the North Wing—
 or the ‘forsaken corner’ as I more fondly think
 of it. It’s nearly always empty and this evening
 is no different. With worn-out paint in the hallways ,
 desolate grey concrete floors, the strange smell
 of damp and rust, and darkened light fixtures
 that haven’t been replaced in years, it’s no surprise
 nobody wants to live here. But for some of us ,
 especially orphans like Quinn and me,
 it’s the perfect place to be left undisturbed.

rip my gaze away from the glowing blue numbers displayed across the CommuCuff’s surface and attempt to focus on Ms. Matthews, who looks more like a relic of history than a teacher of it. She paces in front of the whiteboard, lecturing on the day of impact yet again. You wouldn’t think it’d be necessary to teach us about the asteroid that doomed us all. It’s fairly safe to say after living down here in the ARC for fifteen years we’ve all become experts. Yet , there she stands critically breaking down the social ramifications of forcing a select few people from society down into a fallout shelter. God, I hope there isn’t another test on this.

Can you imagine it?! There is no place you can go where there will not be the same people, your neighbors in the ARC. Sure there may be some you don't really know, but, as far as you know, they are the only people in the world that are still alive...

There is no sun, no green grass to walk or sit on...nothing but scorched earth that can be seen from an observation area...

Still, after 15 years, everybody has adjusted, as much as possible, to the situation they are all in...

Except that, there is still a chance that you could have been tainted from that early exposure... You are routinely tested. When somebody registers as being tainted, they disappear! Nobody knows what happens after that!

Elle is now 17; having become an orphan. Quinn is her roommate and has become the closest thing to family that she has. It is Quinn's turn to be tested...Elle is so afraid that she, too, might disappear and never been seen again. Can she endure losing any more loved ones?! She's started searching for Sebastion, also a close friend, hoping to have him with her in case there is an official waiting rather than Quinn returning to their room...

The officials in the ARC are cruel beyond belief and the Council which controls activities there seem to be corrupt...and so secretive...

‘Quinn, I know that face. What’s wrong?’ She pulls herself to the edge of the bed and dangles her legs down over the side. ‘You’re probably going to think I’m crazy, well, crazier than normal. But people have been talking,’ she says quietly. ‘There hasn’t been anyone taken in over six months…’
 ‘So? That’s a good thing right?’ 
She shakes her head. ‘I’m not so sure. I’ve been hearing lots of people are about to be taken. I’d dismissed it as idle ARC gossip , but today my testing felt off, like something was different. It was almost as though they wanted my result to come back tainted.’ 
She bends her head over to look down at her hands fidgeting in her lap . ‘I don’t know. The whole thing just has me worried. I have a feeling something bad is going to happen…’ 
‘There’s nothing for you to worry about. You aren’t tainted. You won’t have to worry for another year,’ I say, in an attempt to cheer her up.
 ‘You’re right . I’m being silly.’ She laughs lightly at herself, but the sound is stilted and there’s a tension across her forehead. She’s visibly still upset. ‘So, wanna hear about my date with Dr. Delicious?’ she asks, wiggling her eyebrows at me. 
I laugh and go sit at the end of her bed. I’m so happy she’s okay I’d be willing to hear her talk about anything. As she talks enthusiastically about the date though, I find myself focusing more on what she said before. For something to unnerve Quinn like that , and affect her usual chirpy self for even a second, it must be serious.

Elle had once lived with Sebastian's family but two of them had been taken. Now Sebastian and his father were the only ones remaining. It will be quite obvious to readers that Sebastian is in love with Elle, but wants, more, to remain her friend. He knows that Elle is afraid of losing any more of those she has loved... Still, there have been some adventurous times for the two as they've found their way into places that, shall we say, were off-limits? Sebastian was constantly trying to find out what was really going on, where the "tainted" people went or if they were still alive. Surely, they wouldn't just take them to the surface and leave them to die?!

There is another older male friend of Elle that works for the Council. They had met accidentally and had formed somewhat of a friendship, but then he would soon disappear. Sebastian was worried about a relationship with him, especially since he was so much older than Elle...

Soooo, you should have guessed by now that, no matter where humans live, there is always interpersonal relationships at the forefront of their lives. As teens, they were afraid, perhaps more than in the real world, of getting involved with someone or hoping for a longer relationship... After all, one of them could be taken at any time...

It's hard not to share more about what is going on, but I'd better stop, with just one cliff-hanger... One of them is taken!

The second book, Talented, is already out. I thought I'd mention that because this first book certainly will leave you wanting to move on and learn what has happened. The author has split the book perfectly and you'll learn enough about what has happened to Quinn, Elle and Sebastian--just enough to tease and tempt you...

Personally, I wouldn't advise reading Talented if you have not already read Tainted. This first book is the foundation and no matter what happens in the second book, readers will lose by not starting at the beginning. I was left with lots of questions, simply because the author has kept us in suspense for so long. Still, watching the developing relationships as they all begin to realize that something strange is happening, even for this very unique place,
makes this romantic suspense at its finest... I thoroughly enjoyed it, so for those adults who admit to reading YA novels...go for it! Young adults are bound to connect with those who are what you might call...lost in space... Did the asteroid knock earth out of its earlier location? They can't see stars, no sun? Soooo many possibilities! The author has created a fascinating first novel! Enjoy!


ALEXANDRA MOODY is an Australian author who currently resides in London. She studied Law and Commerce in her hometown, Adelaide, before going on to spend several years living abroad in Canada and the UK. She is a serious dog-lover, double-black-diamond snowboarder and has a love/hate relationship with the gym. She can often be found on Twitter at@alexandranmoody and

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