Her brother Gryphon still has three ‘recons’ left and he’s the great sports hero at school with a rich future ahead of him. Phoenix is devoted to him but lately he’s been acting strange, taking risks, losing at sports, risking his lucrative sponsorships, almost as if he doesn’t care.
Phoenix begins to worry he’s into drugs and going to ruin his life, but when she discovers that he deliberately killed her when she was young ‘to see what it was like’ she struggles to forgive him.
Their father Oscar is into religion, something that is considered a bit of joke in this ultra modern society and to wake his kids up he takes them into the ‘poor’ zone so they can see what spoiled lives they lead. They are nearly swamped by semi-starving people desperate to get out of their rat-infested lives and Phoenix is shocked. She never knew people lived like that and perhaps is a bit too smug about her way of life and all the chances everyone has. But she too only has one life left and realises that she’s not as different to the poor as she thought.
But what is Gryphon’s secret, why is he risking everything? Why is he snubbing Phoenix all the time? And what is her best friend Nadia's boyfriend Saul's problem? Why is everything disintegrating around her. Suddenly no one trusts anyone in her social network.
Then Gryphon dies – is it a foolish prank or suicide? If it is suicide he loses all his rights to ‘recon’ and he’ll be gone forever. Phoenix out of love and devotion to her brother has to find out the truth. Gryphon’s friends close ranks, Saul disappears and there are just hours to find the truth before Gryphon is gone forever.
Carrie Mac thinks hard about the future. It’s a likely scenario that when we have the chance to live ‘forever’ we too would be spoiled and regret it and I like the idea that the future is far from egalitarian. Of course there will be the poor, they are always with us and British Columbia where this suspense thriller is set is on the cutting edge of the future. Many live like kings even now, but one glance at the debris of humanity living on Hastings and you glimpse Phoenix’s future world. The division between rich and poor will grow exponentially and be decided not just by money and education but biogenetics and access to second and even third chances. Today’s kids reading The Gryphon Project will most liekly grow up in a world where this will no longer be science fiction but fact and that’s the scariest notion of all. I admit that this novel is perhaps less focussed than 'Jenna Fox' and indeed not as gripping as 'The Droughtlanders' but is certainly worth investigating.
(Amazon will find The Gryphon Project for you on Global Penguin/Puffin for territories outside Canada)