Genre: YA Dystopian/Sci Fi
Word count: 63,000
Kids are killed off at twenty on the planet Surface, but at sixteen, Clementine is one of the lucky ones picked to stay alive.
When she impresses the testers on Extraction Day, her prize is a transfer to the underground colony in the Core. Down there, she doesn't have to be afraid—not of hunger, officials, or the moon's poison. As an Extraction, Clementine receives training that raises her intelligence, loyalty, and Promise, an elusive quality that makes her worthy of safety. She's supposed to forget the way life was back in the Surface slums, but no matter how much better life is now, she can't forget Logan, the boy she loves but left behind. The boy who will die at twenty if she doesn't break him free.
When she learns Logan is in danger of a fate far worse than simple death, she must find a way to save him before the planet leaders take something else she can't afford to lose: her freedom of mind.
When Logan arrives, he's holding a flower that could kill me.
I like to think I'm one of the braver kids. Sure, some days the whippings and beatings make me wanna curl up in a ball. When I dream of Logan getting carted off to quarantine, I wake drenched in sweat and trembling, but I master it pretty quick. I get over it. I have to be good at ignoring my fear, 'cause how else will I ever prove I deserve to escape it?
This flower is different.
My feet move, then my back slams into the windowsill of our shack.
I stare at the green stem as Logan twirls the flower, at the petals glinting silver like metal. It's been eleven years since I've seen this kind of petal. Silver aster flowers are supposed to be calming for the mind, but they do something else to me.
“What were you thinking?” My voice is hoarse.
Logan starts laughing.
I snatch a rock from the ground and throw it at his shoulder. Hard.
He ducks to avoid it. “Jeez, Clementine.” With a calloused hand, he tears the petals. Thin silver wrappings fall away, leaving behind the blackening blue of a common aster—a flower that will definitely not kill me. It's grimy, of course. Everything's covered in grime on the Surface.
Nothing can stop the heat from spreading through my cheeks. “So funny, Logan.”
He grins. “I didn't think you'd believe it.”