In Lib’s world, it’s dangerous to deviate from the norm. In fact, for someone who doesn’t live up to the Artificial Intelligence’s standards, it’s practically a death sentence. Lib learns this the hard way when she wakes up in a barren wasteland, with her memories erased, and only one thought lodged in her mind:
“It’s all my fault.”
Lib is a Glitch—an imperfect human component of the utopian world called the Norm. Now she’s thrown out, Lib will be forced to team up with another Glitch, Raj, and the mysterious Rogue Wolf and his clan to survive. Wolf only cares about the survival of his group, but Raj thinks they can hack the A.I. and change the Norm for the better.
Now, Lib will have to decide which path to choose—whether to go with striking loner Raj or stay with Wolf and his tight-knit group. Her heart is drawn to both, but she’s carrying a deadly secret that could jeopardize them all. Will she be able to save her newfound family and stop the A.I. before it’s too late?
The sun is almost over the wall with shadows long and stretching across half the empty land when the other girl begins to stir.
Trying not to startle her, I move close and kneel at her side. I want her to blink. I want her to wake. I want her to move and speak and tell me how the world works.
Pale lashes flutter and her lids open. Her eyes startle—they are so blue they seem a reflection of the sky. I look up just to make sure, but in the end I decide they’re not an exact match in the shade.
When I look back to her, those crystal-blue eyes widen. Her nostrils flare and her skin seems to pale. She tries to scrabble backward, but she can’t move very well.
I put out a hand, but I don’t touch her. She looks as if she might become nonfunctional again if I do. Glancing at my hand, she wets her lips. That reminds me I’m thirsty, too, but there is nothing here. No water, no food…just this girl and me. I don’t want to leave here. I need to know what this girl can tell me about who I am.
As soon as the words are out of my mouth, she jerks away from me. That’s difficult given that I’m kneeling so close and she’s lying on the floor. But she manages it by using her legs to shove herself, digging her heels into the dust and pushing against cracks in the platform.
I stare at her and ask, “What are you doing?”
When her back hits the semi-circle edge of the railing, which I now know is some kind of connector, she freezes. She glances up at the railing and I can almost see the realization of what happened click within her eyes.
Instantly, she looks at me again. “You!” Her voice is high like a squeak almost.
Hope flutters in my breast. This is where she’ll tell me who I am!
Her next words rush out with a breath. “You’re the crazy girl who saved me.”
Disappointment pulls at my shoulders and I slump back. I don’t know what my expression must look like, but my lower lip quivers. I don’t even know what my face looks like. I don’t think it looks like this girl’s, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we’re copies. Maybe all faces look like hers.
“Why am I crazy?”
She scoots away from the railing and waves up at it. “You could have died. So could I. The hack went bad.”
I’m trying not to react to any of this—it makes no sense. But the girl sees something in my expression—something telling. Her lips tug down again—she has a wide mouth. She sits up and puts her elbows on her knees. “You did save me? Yes?”
I think about her question. About the electricity, the room, and the firewall inside the connect. It was a virtual trap. It wasn’t real. But it was out to make her nonfunctional. Even as fragmented as I am, I know that much. So I nod. “Yes, I did.”