The Official Description: Sixteen-year-old Nate is a GEM—Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue created by the scientists of Gathos City as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, he was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. Nate manages to survive by using his engineering skills to become a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.
But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their GEMs—a flaw that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. As Nate’s health declines, his hard-won freedom is put in jeopardy. Violence erupts across the Withers, his illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay — and die — with the boy he loves.
Just the facts: YA, dystopian, like “Never Let Me Go” and “The Island”, character-driven. Love, loss, grief, found family.
I fell in love with Nate quickly… and felt all of his love, hope and loss. – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit: Fragile Remedy is a great YA book… it falls into the wonderful category of introducing very real topics and keeping it framed within the bubble of Young Adults. Reminiscent of books like “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro, this book is about what makes us human. It’s certainly relevant now more than ever as young people are living in a time of a pandemic. I was sad to see that the publishing date of this book was pushed back until March 9, 2021.
Nate is a GEM. He was engineered to provide medical assistance to the wealthy and privileged. He remembers his parents… his mother… and a car accident after which he was sent to live with his Aunt. The World began to fall apart and Nat survives by being a “tinker” who can build and fix electronics etc and by being part of a gang of young people. Nate struggles to keep his secret because he feels that his only value to people is because he can be sold. In spite of the fact that he is bonded to Reed – the unofficial leader of the gang and Pixel… he seems unable to trust. Having a huge secret, a secret that makes him worth a lot means that he trusts no one.
Nate relies on Alden for his “remedy”. Remedy is the medicine that Nate needs to stay alive. Once a GEM reaches puberty they begin to get ill. Without remedy, he can’t survive for very long. He has an odd relationship with Alden – there’s give and take but again, Nate has no idea if he can truly trust Alden to have his best interests at heart. Alden has “fed” from Nate in the past in exchange for his remedy…but their relationship has changed.
This book is heartbreaking, heavy and definitely a great read. I suppose it’s about trust… trusting those around you and most importantly yourself. It’s also about sticking to what you believe in… what’s important to you and understanding what it may cost in the end.
Nate is a wonderful character. He is, perhaps, the most human of all the characters even though he is a GEM. But without giving away too much I need to talk about Alden. What a fantastic character Alden is. I love characters that give me mixed emotions… and make me think about things. Alden is one of the most wonderful, authentic and heartbreaking characters I have found in a very long time. I can’t even really put my finger on what it was about him. – I mean other than the obvious that he’s very well-written, he’s also a “slow reveal” throughout the book. I really don’t want to give away too much about the characters because the discovery of their stories etc as you go through this story is a wonderful journey.
The world-building is detailed and stark. What a time for me to be reading this book (during the Covid 19 lockdown). Such a dystopian future because of “lung rot” definitely felt a bit too real to me! If you had asked me if it was realistic a few months ago I would have been much less likely to agree. But, what I thought the author did really well was capture the way humans react to adversity. there are people who will do anything to help others, there are people who look out for themselves and there are so many in between. This story does such a great job of illustrating a world in which people have to make choices and decide what type of person they are going to be.
This book is a lovely addition to the vast world of YA literature. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it at the library!
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Explosions, people stuck in a crashed train car, death of a character, multiple types of injuries, stabbing, physical attacks resulting in deaths, people trapped in a fire, description of burn scars, description of a character dying, forced confinement.
I received an ARC of Fragile Remedy by Maria Ingrande Mora from Flux via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.