So here’s another book set in a future in which things have gone wrong. Some futuristic societies have artificially prolonged people’s lives, some have seriously clamped down on liberties. In the future of Janet McNaughton’s teen book, it’s the planet itself that has been changed most dramatically. The earth’s ozone layer finally did let through so much radiation that no one could be outside without all kinds of protection. It was then that governments took over to protect people’s lives.
In this future, one young woman, Blay, has been selected from a children’s orphanage/work camp to help another young woman achieve her potential. Marrella is a “bio-indicator,” a person whose body is particularly sensitive to toxins in the environment. She is being trained to fulfill her “calling,” and Blay is recruited to help her learn her responsibilities.
Of course, as the story progresses, Blay learns much more about how the government works, what it knows, and what the full reality of the planet’s health has become. She knows very little about herself and her real family at the beginning, and she finds that her kind new caretakers, an educated couple involved in the movement to overthrow the strict government, are able to help her learn more about her own past.
The Secret Under My Skin has likable, real characters who are trying to help others and society at large, as well as improve the earth on which they live. Even though the earth has suffered from the way humans have treated it, the story shows there is still hope — that humans can do better to be caretakers of their home and that our beautiful planet is endlessly adaptable and can be healed. The story has a theme of environmental awareness and activism, but it is enjoyable to read and imparts a message of hope for the future not just of our world but of the people who live on it. The book is appropriate for any age readers.
Rated: None, for virtually no objectionable content. There are only one or two occasions of mild language.