The closeted son of an ultra-conservative president must keep a budding romance secret from his father while protecting himself from a sentient computer program that’s terrorizing the United States—and has zeroed in on him as its next target—in this “socially conscious sci-fi thriller to shelve between The Terminator and Romeo and Juliet” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review).
In the near future, scientists create what may be a new form of life: an artificial human named Charlotte. All goes well until Charlotte escapes, transfers her consciousness to the Internet, and begins terrorizing the American public.
Charlotte’s attacks have everyone on high alert—everyone except Lee Fisher, the closeted son of the US president. Lee has other things to worry about, like keeping his Secret Service detail from finding out about his crush on Nico, the eccentric, Shakespeare-obsessed new boy at school. And keeping Nico from finding out about his recent suicide attempt. And keeping himself from freaking out about all his secrets.
But when attacks start happening at his school, Lee realizes he’s Charlotte’s next target. Even worse, Nico may be part of Charlotte’s plan too.
As Lee races to save himself, uncover Charlotte’s plan, and figure out if he can trust Nico, he comes to a whole new understanding of what it means to be alive…and what makes life worth living.
Floreen's thoughtful debut calls into question the definition of humanity and the nature of love. In a near-future America, artificial intelligences have been developed and promptly outlawed, with a rogue entity named Charlotte launching terrorist attacks, ostensibly to free her imprisoned brethren. Lee Fisher, the son of the president of the United States, worries about being one of Charlotte's targets, but he's more afraid that he'll be outed as gay in an increasingly hostile sociopolitical environment. When he falls for Nico, who has just transferred to his prep school, Lee has to overcome years of repression and fear, gaining confidence he will need as Charlotte's plans escalate. Floreen's story combines elements of romance and action, set against a believable futuristic backdrop, and he wisely keeps the core cast insular for better character development. Genuine twists should catch readers off-guard, but the ultimate set of revelations requires some significant leaps of logic. Nevertheless, the developing chemistry between Nico and Lee is satisfying, and the story raises intriguing ideas about free will, morality, and growing up. Ages 14 up.