GENRE: YA Light Science Fiction
In an overly extroverted, gene-selected future where each person's Worth™ as a human being is measured, ranked, and bodily displayed, introverted teenager Wren is a Worthless recluse. When forced to choose between protecting her father and having her guarded personality forcibly exposed, Wren pursues another option: winning a team adventure race through the hostile wilderness.
If Wren’s ability to dream had not been blotted out by Surf, the black market drug some introverts used to seem more friendly and likeable, she was sure she would have dreamed of some place quiet: where water was clean and plentiful, where the breeze rolled gently through fields of soft flowers and bare toes, where there was no high school, and where all the people were dead. Not the rotting, putrefying, reclaimed-by-microorganisms dead, but the kind where they just disappeared—poof!—without a trace, leaving her free to think and investigate her story device in solitude. Okay, Wren didn’t wish her dad dead. But in her dream he would be self-sufficient . . . in his own hut a few miles away. And he could visit . . . occasionally. She wallowed in the idea, blowing off the social convention against spending too much time inside one’s own head.
Wren checked the digital readout on her chest to see if her Worth™ had changed overnight. It was stuck at 10. She tapped it just to be sure, but it remained steady. Typical, she thought.
Put simply, Worth™ was a scientific measurement of a person’s value as a human being, displayed on a scale of 0 to 100. It was all about using your outgoing personality to “put yourself out there.” Worth™ was generated by the positive buzz surrounding your KamaStream presence; by how many zealots you had, and especially by how much influence you had on their shopping habits. Buying stuff because of you created economic ripples and increased your social authority. It might even earn you corporate sponsorship.