The Firefly CodeBook - 2016
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Mori is 12, on the cusp of having her brain-altering surgery to "release her latency," a technique pioneered by her Baba (grandmother) in the super technologically advanced settlement of New Harmonie.
The bulk of the book takes place on Firefly Lane, in a cul-de-sac, as the kids ride bikes and visit each other's houses / pools, or in Mori's case, the woods just outside the town but inside the fence that keeps them safe from the hordes and diseases outside their town.
One day a new girl appears, Ilana. She whisks into the empty house in the cul-de-sac with some amazingly trendy parents, high-ranking in the Krita Corp., which runs the settlement, and Mori, on a whim, takes Ilana to her place in the woods. It's the one place Julia, Mori's best friend, doesn't get. Mori is a naturalist at heart, and loves drawing the plants and naming the trees and just spending time surrounded by foliage and greenery. She's also a true "natural," not a designed kid, and was born with a retinal impairment. Her parents have used up almost all of her 30% allotment for enhancements fixing her eye, with a combination of a surgically implanted new lens and special prescription, adaptive glasses that enable her to see. Mori and Ilana click, the way friends do at that age, sparking Julia's jealousy.
Julia is the exact opposite of Mori -- she's a designed child, exceptionally physically fit and capable of amazing feats of running, jumping, etc. She's hyper-competitive about everything, more so this year than ever before, and of course Julia doesn't like Ilana from the start.
Ilana, Mori is convinced after they bond over the moss in Oakedge, Mori's forest oasis Ilana helps her name, is all-natural, like herself. Mori's been taught that nature is gorgeous, and Ilana is too, so of course, Ilana must be a "natural."
Mori is determined to integrate Ilana into their circle of friends -- including Theo, another "designed" kid, and Benji, a genius and a "natural." (Although you learn later to not trust what the kids have been told by their parents, at all.)
Then Theo has his latency surgery, and he comes back...changed. He has bad headaches. He's downright nasty, for no reason, to Mori, with whom he's always been very protective and gentle. He has to go back, for more brain surgeries, to "fix" him, because they (Krita Corp.'s doctors) got it wrong, the first time. Eventually, he evens out, but...Mori pauses to think about what's been done to him.
At the same time, Mori's putting together some not-so-subtle hints that Ilana may not be what they all think she is. They go into her Baba's house at #9, which has been abandoned all these years, and find a closet packed with humanoid android parts and an old computer they boot up, with files about a scuttled project named, "Alana."
And then there's a near-drowning in Julia's pool, in which Ilana just "shuts down" and then, once rescued, suddenly "reboots." And there's the fact that Ilana's never quite meshed with any of the other kids, except Mori.
When they go back to the house for more answers, Ilana hurts Mori, grabs her arm way too tight and leaves a painful bruise, to prevent her from going inside. The house burns down, destroying all evidence inside and any chance the kids could get solid answers to their questions. Still, Mori isn't sure Ilana is natural at all, or if she's even human.
But does that mean, Ilana isn't a friend? And when Ilana's in trouble, when Krita Corp. decides to "scuttle" the experiment that is her, can Mori convince all the kids to come to her rescue?
I won't spoil the ending. You'll have to read to find out what they do, which I will say is the basis for Book 2.
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