Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

ACID

ACID

Emma Pass
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
Random House, 2014   ISBN: 978-0385743877

Fifty years ago the government of the Independent Republic of Britain (IRB) handed power over to ACID (Agency for Crime Investigation and Defense), a police force that has changed life in the country dramatically. Citizens can no longer speak freely or move about the country as they wish, and ACID decides who citizens will be LifePartnered with, when they will have children, where they live, and what kind of job they do. Anyone who crosses ACID is imprisoned. Or worse.

   Two years ago Jenna Strong was the privileged daughter of a high ranking ACID official. She lived in Inner, the most desirable part of London, and had a life of comfort. Then, seemingly without warning Jenna killed her parents during an argument about who she was going to be her LifePartner. ACID decided to make an example of Jenna. She was tried as an adult, was sentenced to eighty years in prison, and was sent to Mileway, a prison for men. The only concession they made for her gender was to allow her to live in a cell on her own.

   Thanks to her two years in Mileway Jenna has become tough, resilient, and hard. The other inmates leave her alone because they know that she will beat them up if they don’t. Jenna does what she is told, trains every day, and tries to avoid conflict. Then, one day she suddenly gets violently sick while she is working in the kitchens. She passes out and when she comes to in the infirmary, the doctor, Dr. Fisher, tells her that there is a riot going on in the prison. He then gives her a sedative and carries her up to the roof of the prison. Jenna just about manages to stay conscious, which is why she is able to see what happens next. An ACID agent tries to stop Dr. Fisher from loading Jenna onto a roto and a fight breaks out. After getting rid of the ACID agent Dr. Fisher gets Jenna into the roto and it takes off. As they are flying away, Jenna sees another ACID agent kill Dr. Fisher, and then she passes out.

   A day later Jenna wakes up. She has no idea where she is at first, nor does she know why she is there. She discovers that she now has hair (she kept her head shaved in prison) and that her face has been changed. The people who rescued her explain that they cannot tell her everything because if she is caught by ACID she mustn’t be able to tell them who helped her. They do tell her that ACID is offering a sizeable reward for information leading to Jenna’s arres,t and that they are accusing her of Dr. Fisher’s death. Jenna’s rescuers have created a new identity for her and in a few days’ time she, as Mia Richards, will move to an apartment in Outer. She will live there with Cade, her new false Lifeparter, and will work in a magtram factory.

   Sure enough Jenna, as Mia, is soon living in Zone M in Outer London in a place called Anderson Court. She does her best to be content with her new life, observing all the rules and keeping a low profile at all times. Then, without warning, Cade announces that he has had enough and he leaves. Jenna is appalled. She knows that ACID has someone watching everyone at Anderson Court and if Cade leaves, they will both be reported. ACID does not like it when LifePartners don’t stick together.

   Jenna tries to find Cade at his workplace, without success, and on her way home a young boy, high on drugs, tries to mug her. He fails miserably and after Mia knocks him down she gets a good look at him. The boy is Max Fisher, Dr. Fisher’s son. Jenna can hardly believe her eyes. Though she wishes she could just leave him, she feels she owns him something. After all, Max’s father gave his life to help Jenna to escape from Mileway.

   A few days later Jenna and Max are on the run with ACID in hot pursuit. Jenna does her best to take care of Max, who is sick and not strong, desperate to get them both to a place of safety. Does such a place exist in ACID’s IRB?

   In this thrilling futuristic novel the author tells a story that is full of unexpected plot twists and interesting character developments. Readers can never be sure what is going to happen next, and they will find themselves rooting for a girl whose life has taken such a terrible and radical turn for the worse. 

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