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The Firefly Code Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—An earnest dystopian mystery that celebrates the power of friendship, individuality, and imperfection. In the corporate utopia of Old Harmonie, life is incredibly controlled. Citizens enjoy ready-made meals delivered to their identical houses in a futuristic suburb of Boston. Parents can modify their children's genetics, amplifying and dampening characteristics as their talents unfold. Twelve-year-old Mori has always felt safe in this world, but she relishes moments when she glimpses something truly unique. When new girl Ilana moves in across the street, Mori is instantly drawn to her refreshing sincerity. Ilana and Mori become fast friends over their love of botany, and together they plant a secret garden in the woods. Mori invites her into her circle of friends, and as a group they begin to explore forbidden areas of the town. They quickly discover Old Harmonie (and its mega conglomerate sponsor Krita) was built on a web of troubling secrets. Perhaps they aren't as safe as they thought. Frazer Blakemore offers an intricate mystery that deals with immensely complicated themes, from the painful changes in tween friendships to the ethics of genetic modification. The characters are charmingly naturalistic in this futuristic dystopia, simultaneously spouting corporate lingo and goofy jokes that modern readers will delight in. The specifics of Old Harmonie's infrastructure is labyrinthine, and occasionally pages of unrestrained exposition break the narrative flow of the mystery. Yet the themes are strong, and the depiction of a tightly controlled world at the expense of individuality will surely fascinate fans of Lois Lowry's The Giver. The ending hints at a sequel. VERDICT A very good selection for middle grade readers drawn to high-concept science fiction.—Anna Murphy, Berkeley Carroll School Library, Brooklyn
"In this gripping novel, Blakemore (The Friendship Riddle) creates a disturbingly ordered world in which questions about friendship and family offer courageous and heartwarming testaments to the human spirit." - Publisher's Weekly
"The themes are strong, and the depiction of a tightly controlled world at the expense of individuality will surely fascinate fans of Lois Lowry's The Giver . . . A very good selection for middle grade readers drawn to high-concept science fiction." - School Library Journal
Top customer reviews
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Author Megan Frazer Blakemore writes an exciting story keeping the reader curious and desiring more. I enjoyed the back-story of the town of Old Harmonie, the message of friendship, and doing the right thing. THE FIREFLY CODE is well-paced and perfect for classrooms grade four and up.
Mori and her friends live in the utopian community of Old Harmonie where physical enhancements and dampening of characteristics are the norm. The children believe in the ideals on which the community was founded and are looking forward to becoming contributing members as they grow older.
There’s never been a reason to question the status quo — at least, not until Ilana moves into the empty home in their cul-de-sac. Ilana is almost too perfect, and she doesn’t seem to always understand the social norms. When Mori and her friends learn the truth about Ilana, it turns their world upside down. Now the kids of Firefly Lane can’t help but question everything.
“The Firefly Code” is dystopian writing at its best — the futuristic elements feel organic within the scope of Blakemore’s story. But it’s the relationships she cultivates that really make this story shine — her exploration of friendship is both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I recommend “Firefly Code” along with any other books by Blakemore who clearly understands her audience well beyond many of her contemporaries.
*My review is based on an advanced reader copy provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest thoughts.
The book revolves around the friendships of four children, Mori, Julia, Benji, and Theo, for whom everything changes when a new girl, Ilana, moves onto Firefly Lane. Ilana seems to be good at everything and Mori really likes her. But Julia gets a bit jealous, and then things start going wrong and it all seems to be connected to Ilana. The children have been taught that creativity, ingenuity, experimentation, and order are essential to keeping Old Harmonie running well. But the kids start to wonder if something might be missing from that formula. With some great character development and interesting dilemmas, this book makes for a great read for more thoughtful readers and a great class read aloud.