Everything Kyla knows has disappeared --- but not as the result of some terrible accident, apocalyptic catastrophe or new world order. Instead, her memory has been erased as part of a government program intended to rehabilitate young people who have committed crimes.
But something is different about Kyla. Usually when someone’s been "slated" (the term of choice to describe this memory erasing procedure), they enter their new lives as a fresh slate, precisely how the government planned it. But Kyla seems to have more problems completely forgetting her past life than most. Although she can’t say where she’s from or why she’s been slated, she continues to have flashes --- clues to her past life. While desperately wanting to start fresh, Kyla can’t help wondering what got her into her current situation, or why she still has the instincts that the government tried so hard to erase.
"Terry also is skillful at unfolding her design; the plot is not obvious, and her use of dreams and flashbacks (which are, of course, not supposed to be there) allow the reader to sink into Kyla's mental process."
As she integrates into her new family and school, Kyla knows that she is supposed to want to be like everyone else. Still, she can't help feeling that maybe the slating program isn't really the positive thing that the authorities make it out to be. If slating really just removes the memories of guilty criminals, why are innocent people so afraid of the government officials in charge of maintaining order? And why does it always feel to Kyla like people are withholding information from her?
Further complicating the picture is Ben --- another slated who seems to have adjusted incredibly well to society, is popular around school and takes a strong interest in Kyla. She feels it too, and though she knows that as someone who has recently been slated (and should therefore avoid any activities that could be emotionally stressful), she can't help but fall for him.
But that's just the beginning. As innocent people start being taken away to be slated, Kyla realizes that the story isn't as simple as it seems, and that slating may have more nefarious purposes than protecting the innocent from those who would harm society.
Teri Terry has turned out an impressive first novel. The premise of slating dexterously blends dystopian fantasy and futuristic sci-fi, and there is enough romance and teenage drama to keep any reader entertained. Terry also is skillful at unfolding her design; the plot is not obvious, and her use of dreams and flashbacks (which are, of course, not supposed to be there) allow the reader to sink into Kyla's mental process. As a result, the reader uncovers Kyla's secrets as she does, further adding suspense and excitement to an already fun read.
Terry also makes a point of including multiple kinds of action. Of course, there are the expected chase scenes and typical close calls, but Terry also makes one of Kyla's key calming mechanisms running. These running sequences are some of the best segments of the book. Terry vividly captures the exhilarating feeling of feet pounding against the ground and a pounding heart in your chest.
If anything, the most disappointing point in the book is the ending, not only because the reader is eager to know what comes next, but also because of its abruptness. Having grown used to a style in which Kyla comes to realizations over time, the end feels a bit manic. Even so, there's no doubt that readers will still want to follow Kyla as she delves further into her past and discovers more about the powers that rule her world.
Reviewed by Rebecca Kilberg on December 18, 2012