NAMED TO KIRKUS REVIEWS' BEST BOOKS OF 2018
You've never seen a true human being.
No one has, because for several millennia a hidden society has conducted a clandestine effort to “diminish” the entire population, biochemically changing humans into lesser beings while they’re still in the womb.
But now the Diminishing Act is up for renewal and Andra Barger, a last-minute addition to the voting council, has an opportunity to overturn the law. It seems like an easy call… until she learns her cancer-stricken brother, the fate of an elusive culture, and possibly her own life depend on the council’s good graces. Meanwhile her conscience—and Andra’s only chance of having an unaltered child—demands an opposition vote.
Will she vote for... or against... the horrific Act?
This science fiction thriller tantalizes with a bold, intriguing, and original premise, touching on themes of human potential and the ethics of eugenics, but falls apart due to a lack of subtlety and plausibility. Andra Barger's is the only human woman entrusted by the secret Cin e race to help execute their 180,000-year-old diminishing program, by which every human child's godlike capacities are eliminated by the stealthy placement of a gel on the mother's palm at conception. Andra struggles with balancing her general opposition to this program, and her personal desire for an unaltered child, with politics that affect the lives of her loved ones. These concerns are amplified when, to her surprise, she is tapped to vote on the semicentennial Council's reapproving the program. Cray (Mother Tongue) fails to reconcile the cloak-and-dagger nature of the diminishing process with a near-perfect success rate over millennia, and though Cin e-created tools and environments are often evocatively described, an unsatisfying explanation of "arcane tech" is relied on for almost everything. Cray lets what could have been a thought-provoking story degenerate into a humans vs. others power fantasy. (BookLife)