Edward Willett The Cityborn. DAW July 2017
One thing I adore about good YA is the agency of the young people. That is, they make judgments, set their own goals, and demonstrate both persistence and resourcefulness. That describes the two central characters in this dystopic-sf novel. Having landed on a distant planet, a spaceship gradually transforms into a city, and then decays.
While the officers clone themselves and then use nanobots to pass on their memories and skills to the next generation, the Captain has for various reasons not passed to new bodies. And as the Captain’s vital signs sink ever lower, so do the parallel vital functions of the City. A desperate scheme results in the creation of two children, in vitro offspring of the Captain and First Officer, who are then theoretically capable of taking the place of the dying Captain and restoring the City.
One of the children is kidnapped by a rebel underground, dedicated to overthrowing the class tyranny of the Officers; now a young adult, he is joined by the other, who narrowly escapes being turned into a mind-controlled Captain. The two are catapulted into a quest filled with action, suspense, and the emotional turmoil of carving out an individual identity in a world determined to control and exploit them. An exciting, absorbing read for adult as well as YA readers.