Young building worker, Toni V, finds a diary buried in a water can in the rubble of a construction site. He knows he should just hand it in to the Supervisor - that's the rule. But curiosity gets the better of him and he starts reading. At first the diarist, Pelly D, seems like any ordinary girl, writing about clothes, parties, boys. But underneath the light, sassy, often sarcastic narrative, Toni V begins to sense that something very different, sinister, and scary is unfolding.
Set far in the future and on a distant planet, Pelly D's diary bears witness, through the eyes of a young girl, to the terrifying consequences of genetic classification.
In this story-within-a-story, 14-year-old worker Toni V unearths the diary of the once pampered, popular 15-year-old Pelly D and, through her entries, discovers the disturbing history of the war and ethnic cleansing that led to his job clearing a bombed-out plaza. First novelist Adlington sketches the history of Pelly D's society, the "brave new world Colonials" on another planet ("No cars, no violent crimes, & five capitals of Cultural Renaissance on this continent alone"). The colony was settled by inhabitants who arrived in spaceships, were bred in test tubes, breathed through gills and valued water as a precious commodity. The author hints at a sinister practice of gene tagging and a rivalry between the Big Three gene families the Atsumisi, the Galrezi and the Mazzini early on in the journal. In a plot development that recalls the events of the Holocaust, Pelly D, her mother, brother and sister are branded with a "G" for the despised Galrezi and must leave their luxurious apartment. Her father (a superior Atsumisi) eventually abandons them, and Pelly learns more about the disappearances that foreshadow her own probable end. Readers may become drawn into Pelly D's plight, but Toni V remains more of a lens than a fully formed character. Still, Adlington (whose author bio says she has a "longtime interest in war diaries") offers a futuristic portrait of the prejudice and hierarchies that can lead to atrocities. Ages 13-up.