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The Firefly Code

The Firefly Code

Book - 2016
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Mori and her friends live a normal life on Firefly Lane in Old Harmonie, a utopian community where every kid knows he or she is genetically engineered to be better and smarter, but when a strangely perfect new girl named Ilana moves in, the friends begin to question the only world they have ever known.
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2016
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9781619636361
1619636360
Call Number: j BLAKEMORE 2016
Characteristics: 340 pages ; 22 cm

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AMB_4
Apr 14, 2021

This book was very interesting for a middle grade read in that it wasn't driven by an external plot. There was no quest, no exterior objective the main character, 12-year-old Mori, has to achieve.

You could even say there was no "typical" action for MG sci-fi -- no moon buggy races, no invading aliens, no 'splosions (the stick by which my son and husband judge every book and movie they've ever read / seen), no flying or battling spaceships, although there is a house fire the kids watch from afar. In fact, the most "exciting" thing that happens is, of course, at the very end and sets the stage for the second book.

Instead, this book focuses on a philosophical journey undertaken by children, not adults (because the adults represent some very fixed ideas about the world and these issues), considering the following questions:

If your parents could design you, pick and choose genes for attributes they wanted in you, would you want to be designed? Or be a "natural" kid, with all the limitations that implies?

And if your parents also had the ability to alter your brain through surgery, say release a hidden talent or dampen a negative or self-destructive trait, would you want them to? Would doing so change who you are?

And finally, what makes a friend? Flesh and blood? Or is it possible to call an artificial intelligence, around which flesh and blood are grown, a friend, too?

A thoroughly enjoyable, if uncharacteristically quiet, science-fiction middle grade read.

g
Green_Cat_68
Sep 06, 2020

The Firefly Code is a futuristic, dystopian novel set in the unassuming town of Old Harmonie, where children receive their “latencies”, which are perfectly tailored to their personality. The story is about a young girl named Mori, whose life seems to be simple and straightforward. However, this is completely changed when the perfect Ilana moves into their neighborhood. I enjoyed this book because it not only had some eye-opening ideas. The entire idea of the plot is very intriguing, bringing up questions on whether or not it is moral to modify an individual’s genes. There were only two drawbacks that I had with the novel. The beginning of the story was a little hard to follow, but it got easier later on once I grasped the idea of the ‘latencies’. In addition, I felt the ending was rather abrupt. Although there is a sequel to the story, The Firefly Code would be just as good by itself if there was a little more development to the story’s end.

a
AndLib1
Oct 26, 2016

Great book for a book club. What is a human? When does genetic manipulation enhances ones original self, and when does it change the original being into a new/designed individual? These are the questions the Firefly 5 are face with as they transition from 6th to 7th Grade, from 11 to 12 years old when they have to choose their "latancy" which will determine who they become and what jobs they will take. All of this is done in a near future Utopian atmosphere reminiscent of "The Giver" by Lois Lowery.

This should be on every STEAM, STEM and social sciences teachers bookshelf because the tech part of the story is enmeshed in the universal themes of safety without choice, or choice without safety. Taking responsibility for your life and actions, and above all this book is about friendship. A book kids will want to read for the characters and story, but one that will leave them with questions that address current events. Not sure its the first in a series, which would be fantastic. But it could be more powerful left as a stand alone. (Also on my Goodreads reviews)

r
rosebud2112
Jul 26, 2016

Good option for the younger set that wants to read Divergent, but is not quite ready for it.

m
MajorMajorX2
Jun 14, 2016

Entertaining but I saw the twist coming from a long way off!

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AndLib1
Oct 26, 2016

AndLib1 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

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AMB_4
Apr 14, 2021

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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