Tarnished by Kate Jarvik Birch
**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**
When 16 year old “Domestic companion” Ella, a genetically modified and glorified Pet, is separated from her beloved Penn safely across the Canadian border, she has only thoughts of returning to him. She’d rather serve a life as a Pet in Penn’s family home, than be forever cut off from the love they feel for each other. But going back will prove even more difficult than getting away in the first place. And when Ella escapes the Canadian refugee center for Pets, she is helped by an unsuspected accomplice. Missy, who was also a Pet in Ella’s neighborhood and at one time brought suspicion upon Ella and Penn’s plans to leave, takes Ella under her wing and even though she swore she’d never go back, Missy aides Ella in her quest to return to Penn.
Along the way Ella learns about the Black Market for Pets, the mystery “jobs” they do, and just how far Missy will go to maintain Ella’s innocence and safety. But through the process, Ella starts to see more than just a need for change to the way the Pets are treated, but that she may be one of the only people to help restore their humanity – that they aren’t just things of genetically modified beauty to be stashed on a shelf like a trophy. Ella means to be more, to make her life and experiences mean something. But in doing so, it just may break Ella to her very core.
The very idea of people as Pets is so wildly creative, but also such a deranged concept. To think that they’d be thinking and feeling people sitting up straight in their ball gowns on a perch to demonstrate the power of those in high places is so frightening – but it certainly keeps the store flowing and the page turning! Seeing the journey that Ella goes through from lowly Pet to possible savior should give hope to any young person who has a passion for change. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book of Ella’s campaign to forever change her life and those of her fellow “pet” sisters.