- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: HarperTeen (February 15, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 006008989X
- ISBN-13: 978-0060089894
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,957,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Secret Under My Skin Hardcover – February 15, 2005
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up - Set in 2368, this dystopian novel offers a glimpse of a potential future for our world. Blay lives in a work camp for homeless children, where they dig through a garbage dump to retrieve valuable items such as paper. There is not much technology left after the recent technocaust, when scientists were blamed for environmental disasters and taken to concentration camps. Due to her love of reading, Blay is chosen to help Marella, the new bio-indicator, with her studies. In the past, these individuals, whose bodies react to poisons in the environment, served as warning mechanisms for others, but now, as the Earth heals and the danger lessens, they are expected to collect and interpret scientific data. As she helps Marella pass a series of tests, Blay discovers that she has a natural talent for science. As she starts to live a more normal life, she realizes how misled she has been by the people in charge of her society. Her knowledge grows along with that of readers', building suspense and making the resolution more satisfying. Blay is a vividly rendered narrator who exposes her own emotional vulnerability, which enhances her heroism. The setting and culture of the book are equally vividly rendered, offering a depth that allows readers to believe fully in its premise. The writing is clear and crisp, evoking a magic that enchants. All of these elements make this one of the top science fiction novels in recent years. - Tasha Saecker, Caestecker Public Library, Green Lake, WI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 6-9. McNaughton weaves an ambitious tale of a dystopian future that successfully explores many important threads: homeless children, pollution, natural history, education, and the role of science. In the year 2368, following ecological trauma and a "technocaust" that sent scientists and technicians to concentration camps, an oppressive government nurtures fear and ignorance. Now, U-R (Use-Rating) numbers indicate a citizen's value, and "bio-indicators" that monitor environmental toxin levels are revered. Blay Raytee, a young woman with a secret past and an uncertain future, is selected to assist beautiful Marrella in her preparations to become the bio-indicator for their village. Marrella's disinterest in her studies and Blay's love of reading and proclivity for learning ill suit them for their destined careers. Blay's understanding of her talents, her past, and her future unfolds in natural progression. The intriguing ideas, infusion of poetry, and hopeful conclusion more than compensate for a few weaknesses in plot and dialogue. The scarcity of introductory sf for middle-school readers makes this vision of the future, originally published in Canada, a must purchase. Cindy Dobrez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Blake then realizes that Marella, the bio-indicator, has to go on a task by herself, which means she wouldn't be able to use Blake's special knowledge. Because Blake worried about what would happen if Marella failed the last test. Blake runs to the Masterr and tells him everything that she has dne for Marella to help her to complete the tasks. Instead of being scolded or punished like she expected, she was praised for her knowledge and love for all things Science. After that, the book begins to wind down, and it shows the world healing from the Technocaust, the very war that caused so many children to be parentless and not know who they were, or where they came from.
I give this book five stars and two thumbs p, because Janet McNaughton did a wonderful job weaving a story about the future into things that have happened in the past (the Holocaust, Hitler's invasion, most of World War II, just in a different year, and on a greater scale of damage).She obviously scrutinized over the amount of detail that wat put into it. Anyone who is into science-fiction books, books about what could happen in the future due to the way humans are behaving in the present, or just want a good, heartrending book that you can cuddle up with, then this book is awesome. I would recommend it to people ages fourteen to sixty.
Blay is chosen to help a bio- indicator accomplish a special task. As she begins helping, she also uncovers keys to both the healing power of the world and to her past.
In the year 2368, confusion and fear rule the Earth. In this world, everyone is under strict government control. Blay Raytee, a government work camp orphan, is no exception. She is told the same lies the government tells everyone. However just when she starts believing that she will live out the rest of her life in a work camp, she is saved. As she helps Marella, the bio- indicator accomplish her tests, she also learns more about herself with help from her new friends. For one thing, her name isn't Blay, but Blake Raintree. Her friend, Lem Howell, also finds out who her mother was and was able to locate one of her friends that is still alive. In return, Blake helps Lem and his son, Fraser, out. After Fraser's mom was taken away by the Commission, Lem went into a mental state. He was not able to take care of his son, so the town took care of him. However when Lem recovered, he could remember everything about what had happened except the birth of his son. Therefore, in return for all the help Lem has done for her, Blake reunites the two and they finally move in together. Blake also learns that she has made a mistake. She has allowed Marella to abuse her gift. Blake was giving her all the answers to her tests because Marella really didn't know them. Luckily, she hears what is planned for Marella and knows that it should be her doing that, so she finally gives in and tells. Instead of being punished, Blake is praised for having the gift of loving science. All is well in Blake's world, and the healing of the world has also begun. This was a good book and a good look into the future.
The author tries to use terms in the book like some of the terms associated with World War II. During the Holocaust, millions of Jews were killed, and in this book, the author calls the time when thousands of techies were killed the Technocaust. The book also refers to places where the techies where taken to after being captured as concentration camps. In the book, there is not a president or a king, but a Commission, who wants to have total power over the people, just like Hitler. Another way this book used events from WWII was when they explained how the Commission took over. Hitler took over because Germany was politically unstable after the First World War In The Secret Under My Skin, the Commission was able to take over because the governments couldn't cope with the effects of global warming. They tried to cope with floods, forest fires, hurricanes, ice storms, and the droughts and famines, but they couldn't and so they allowed themselves to be controlled by the Commission.
This book gives us a look into the future. It tells of what global warming could do to the environment and the effects it could cause to future generations. It also shines light on what could happen after the storms, when the whole world is in a state of emergency. By foreseeing what could come of this world, it also shines light on the world's past. The same types of things are happening repeatedly. Many of the things that happened in WWII happened during the Technocaust, and like in the Cold War, there is tension, brewing for war between the Commission and the Way.
This book also gives good guesses to what technological advances we could have in the future. Blake had a microchip in her arm. It told her what her name was, where she was born and her birthday. Blake also had a panel in her room, on her wall that she could set. It was like an alarm clock, radio, television and thermostat all in one. The house also had many panels throughout it that did various things such as turn the lights off and tell them when the food was running low. There are also things called last books that you have to pot into things called biblio-techs, so that you can read them.
The Secret Under My Skin was a great book. When reading you can experience how the world might be like in 2368, with all of its technological advancements. That world was not great at all, but at least we know that if the world ever did get that bad, there will still be people out there who want to make the world better and actually take a stand.
Janet McNaughton's The Secret Under My Skin falls into neither trap. Set in the far future, on an ecologically degraded earth, the politics are scary and the heroes real people. No soppy earth mothers, no great destinies, just hard work and human ingenuity. I loved this book.