The Sophisticates Trilogy (box set)
by Christine Manzari
Genre: YA Dystopian
Release Date: October 17th 2016
After a terrorist attack that caused more than 29 million deaths in the US, the government created the Sophisticates—genetically modified children designed to become the perfect soldiers. The Sophisticates were given abilities that made them faster, smarter, and stronger. The only thing they weren’t given was freedom.
But is anything ever truly perfect?
Seventeen-year-old Cleo has been a Sophisticate her entire life. When she begins to exhibit the ability to cause things to explode with merely a thought, she’s sent to the Academy to develop her deviation. She soon learns that there are other Sophisticates like her, Deviants with lethal skills.
Immersed in a deadly game of supernatural powers and dubious motives, Cleo doesn’t know who to trust. Ozzy, the golden boy of the Sophisticates program, insists that Cleo should abandon training her deviation. His fierce interest in Cleo only makes her more determined to avoid him.
As Cleo is pulled deeper into her role as a human weapon, all she truly wants is to be free, but there’s more danger than she ever realized. There are some things that even the government doesn’t know and when the mistakes of the past are revealed and the Deviants start fighting back, no one is safe.
Fans of X-men and The Darkest Minds will enjoy this dystopian trilogy.
About the Author
The first thing Christine does when she’s getting ready to read a book is to crack the spine in at least five places. She wholeheartedly believes there is no place as comfy as the pages of a well-worn book. She’s addicted to buying books, reading books, and writing books. Books, books, books. She also has a weakness for adventure, inappropriate humor, and coke (the caffeinated, bubbly kind). Christine is from Forest Hill, Maryland where she lives with her husband, three kids, and her library of ugly spine books.
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1. SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION
What did I do wrong? This worked earlier. I was in earlier.
I tried again, starting over and going through the same process, wishing I had downloaded the files when I first found them.
Why didn’t I do that?
My fingers angrily attacked the keyboard, searching for a way back to those secure files.
Sitting cross-legged on my bed with the laptop nestled on the pillow, I could feel the panic rising in my chest. All the work I’d done the last few weeks. All the time spent hunched over these keys. All the meals missed. All the lies told. I finally found a way in and now I was locked out again. Why?
Tap. Tap. Tap. My fingers briefly hovered over the keys, then I clicked enter and held my breath.
The letters were small and innocent as they spanned across the screen, but I felt the accusation in their simplicity and I felt warm. Too warm.
I punched the bed on either side of my legs with my fists, fighting the urge to scream in frustration. The laptop slid off the back of the pillow, falling on the mattress with the keyboard straight up in the air. It looked like a beetle trapped on its back. If I weren’t so angry, I would’ve laughed. Instead, I glared at the offending words on the screen as if they were to blame.
Two little words with so much power. I would just have to try again. There was a way in. There was always a way in. I slid my hands through my hair, and then rubbed my palms along the side of my face as I stared at the bed. Thinking. There was a way. There had to be a way.
The unmistakable “ping” of the computer let me know that a new email had arrived.
“What is it this time?” I mumbled, pulling the laptop back up to its pillow perch. More limits to solve? Professor Garner was notorious for sending extra homework right before Lights Out and I’d noticed earlier that the workload was lighter than usual. I seriously hoped it wasn’t an email from Garner; I was in no mood for Calculus.
When my eyes found the new email sitting in the email box, I could feel my confusion crease into a tight “V” in the skin between my eyes. It wasn’t from Garner, it was from a Program Security Advisor. I’d never gotten anything like that before, but given the fact that I’d been trying to hack into password protected Program files only moments before, I knew it wasn’t good.
An unruly chunk of hair dangled in front of my eyes and I tucked it behind my ear, wishing I could ignore the email. Sweat trickled down my temple and slid down the side of my face to my neck.
I was so unbelievably hot right now.
I licked my lips, knowing I couldn’t put it off any longer. I clicked the link, cringing, expecting the worst.
Subject: Genetic Donors
Date: Sun, 17 Sept 10:29
From: J.M., Program Security Advisor
To: Dracone, Clementine
Dear Ms. Dracone,
It has come to our attention that you have been accessing Program files that you are not authorized to view. We have since fixed this issue and you will no longer be able to gain access to top secret information. Your genetic donors are not your concern and it is imperative that you cease and desist all efforts to discover their identities. It is not in your best interest, or theirs, to be privy to this information. You are property of the Program and need to accept the fact that your future is that of a Sophisticate.
As punishment for your indiscretions, your Internet privileges have been revoked until further notice. Internet access will only be given under the supervision of a Professor until we determine that you can be trusted.
Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
Program Security Advisor, J.M.
My hands were shaking. My blood was on fire and my skin was crawling as if my insides were actually boiling. Air. I needed air. I tried to crawl off the bed and get to the window, but the words from the email were blazing through me—a bellowing inferno of indignation.
Cease and Desist.
My hands covered my ears as the words screamed through my head. Or was I screaming?
Pressure was building inside me and I just wanted to let it go, to feel relief. It was too much. I was too hot.
The computer exploded, throwing flaming plastic and metal across the bed. The television answered with its own death, spewing its fiery innards onto the desk and floor, igniting the carpet instantly. The rage in my chest echoed like a heartbeat and with each pulse, something in the room burst into flames. In less than a minute, I was surrounded by broken and burning bits of my room, all of them melting or on fire. A small untouched circle of floor under my feet was my haven, my island in the disaster. Flames raced up the drapes, licking at the ceiling as shards of glass from the window fell inward with an eerie tinkling.
I stared in disbelief, unable to move, as the room burned around me and smoke curled to the ceiling like agitated ghosts. The goldfish flopped helplessly among the wet rubble of his shattered home. Pictures hanging on the wall curled up in the heat, catching flame and falling to the floor in large, ashy flakes.
What had I done?