Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Over the past several months, I have grown as a reader. I’m not on literary tour of classic novels, or — finally — committing to reading every book I own. The books on my night-stand, in my purse, open as I drink my morning tea, have been 2016 debuts.

Reading books by friends in my debut author group means reading books I might not normally pick up. Normally, I avoid horror fiction, but I adored Kali Wallace’s book SHALLOW GRAVES. While I read the occasional mystery, I fell head over heals for Brittany Cavallaro’s Sherlock Holmes update, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE.

What I’ve learned is that, more often than I like to admit, I had been judging books by their genre.

I was raised on Star Trek and Doctor Who, but when it comes to science fiction, I usually go for tried and true authors: Margaret Atwood, Ursula K. LeGuin, Kim Stanley Robinson, Frank Herbert. If it weren’t for my debut author group, I would not have tried Jennifer Bardsley’s wonderfully inventive YA science fiction novel, GENESIS GIRL.

GENESIS GIRL has a stunning concept that builds on our contemporary obsession with the internet, physical appearances, and advertising.

Blanca is a Vestal. She has spent most of her life in a tech-free school. Her picture has never been taken and shared on the internet. Her personal likes and dislikes have never been tracked, bought, or sold by companies or analytic firms. On the eve of her graduation from Tabula Rasa School, Blanca has one dream — to be bought by a firm and serve as the face, body, and soul of its media campaigns. But before she can graduate, an intruder snaps her photograph, spinning Blanca into a life where she must learn make her own, difficult decisions.

GENESIS GIRL just had its publication date moved up from fall to spring. Look for it on June 14. Here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.


Author Jen Bardsley blogs at The YA Gal.

Recommended for high school and up.

Who will like it?

  • Fans of science fiction.
  • Readers who enjoy books that critique modern culture.
  • Adventure and mystery lovers.

What will readers learn about?

  • The value of thinking for oneself.
  • How the internet can negatively impact relationships.
  • The effects of living in an extremely controlled society.

The poem I’m pairing with GENESIS GIRL is a challenging one, but it will give mature teens who enjoy the social criticism aspects of this novel something to chew on. Take a look at the way personification is used to great effect in Wislawa Szymborska’s poem “Advertisement.”




I’m a tranquilizer.
I’m effective at home.
I work in the office.
I can take exams
on the witness stand.
I mend broken cups with care.
All you have to do is take me,
let me melt beneath your tongue,
just gulp me
with a glass of water.I know how to handle misfortune,
how to take bad news.
I can minimize injustice,
lighten up God’s absence,
or pick the widow’s veil that suits your face.
What are you waiting for—
have faith in my chemical compassion.

Read the rest of the poem at the Poetry Foundation.

What else is on Laura’s Bookshelf?

TREASURE AT LURE LAKE, by Shari Schwarz (3/31/16)

THE LAST GREAT ADVENTURE OF THE PB&J SOCIETY, by Janet Sumner Johnson (3/25/16)

THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE, by Heidi Heilig (3/10/16)

THE DISTANCE FROM A TO Z, by Natalie Blitt (1/19/16)

COUNTING THYME, by Melanie Conklin (12/31/15)

FENWAY AND HATTIE, by Victoria J. Coe (12/24/15)


PAPER WISHES, by Lois Sepahban (11/19/15)

THE GIRL WHO FELL, by S. M. Parker (11/5/15)

SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN, by Jeff Garvin (10/29/15)

SHALLOW GRAVES, by Kali Wallace (10/1/15)

MY SEVENTH GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS, by Brooks Benjamin (7/22/15)

4 responses to “Laura’s Bookshelf: Genesis Girl”

  1. Thank you so much for your review!

  2. […] GENESIS GIRL, by Jennifer Bardsley (4/13/16) […]

  3. […] else is on Laura’s Bookshelf? SWORD AND VERSE, by Kathy MacMillan (5/22/16) GENESIS GIRL, by Jennifer Bardsley […]

  4. […] Novels UNDERWATER, by Marisa Reichardt (8/18/16) SWORD AND VERSE, by Kathy MacMillan (5/22/16) GENESIS GIRL, by Jennifer Bardsley (4/13/16) THE GIRL FROM EVERYWHERE, by Heidi Heilig (3/10/16) THE DISTANCE […]

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Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

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