The Lying Planet by Carol Riggs. Published September 19, 2016 by Entangled Teen. YA Science Fiction, ASIN: B01L7BMGES
Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips. Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late. Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.
Inside the enormous building, I walk by rows of empty bleachers. My footsteps slow as I near an imposing apparatus.
A full three meters tall, the Machine’s silver arms flare out from a single seat, making it look like a predatory mutant octopus. A plexifiber dome encloses and protects it. A biolock secures access to the dome. It looks almost alive, as though it’s waiting, sleeping…conserving energy until it’s time for the graduation ceremony.
Shivers crawl down my arms. Eerie as it is, the Testing Machine is my ticket out of Sanctuary. It’ll show what I’ve contributed to the zone and prove I’m worthy to join the colony of Promise City. Thanks to the uncanny way it judges us—and the Board rewarding high scores and threatening banishment for low ones—productivity has skyrocketed. The Machine boggles my mind. For the last six years it’s been here, ever since kids were eighteen and old enough for the Testing to start up, it has held the power of life and death on this planet.
A rowdy whoop echoes around the stadium, making me flinch.
“Hey, Lawton, ogling the beast?” a deep voice calls. “Making sure it’s recording every single one of your dedicated community services?”
I turn to find one of my friends wearing a helioball cap walking into the building. Nash Redmond. A ludmium-powered pruning device and a maintenance bucket dangle from his hands. Two of our other friends are on landscaping duty with him, carrying tools and wearing gloves. Leonard walks beside him, his lanky form mimicking Nash’s casual walk, but Peyton copies no one. Her petite, tomboyish body moves toward me with purpose. Her uniform is mismatched, an orange shirt paired with dark blue pants.
“Hey, Nash,” I say. After what we’ve seen at the education compound, I don’t know how he can act normal, almost cheerful. I give Peyton a half smile. “Why are you still hanging out with these guys?”
She grins, her slightly crooked teeth crisp and white against her naturally brown skin. “They’re insane. I adore insanity.”
“I hope you don’t regret it.” I toss a meaningful glance at the Machine, and it’s not reassuring that she shrugs. She’s changed over the seasons, gone renegade. Ever since that one Harvest Equinox party two years ago, when we stopped hanging out. Now she skips education sessions with Nash and Leonard and works at community service only long enough to log in her required hours. I doubt she’ll flunk and get banished, but she won’t score very high. Apparently the Machine doesn’t spur everyone into being more productive.
“Peyton doesn’t care, so why should you?” Nash asks me. “All we need to do is pass the Testing, not reach superhero-level scores. Take me, for instance. Do I look worried? No, because tomorrow at my ceremony, I’m gonna pass.”
I’m a writer of Young Adult fiction. My YA sci-fi debut novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE, explores themes of body image and identity. My YA fantasy, BOTTLED, released July 7, 2016, from Clean Reads. My YA sci-fi, THE LYING PLANET (formerly called Safe Zone), will release September 19, 2016, via Entangled Teen. I live in the beautiful, green state of Oregon and have a Studio Arts degree. I’m an SCBWI member. You’ll usually find me in my writing cave, surrounded by my dragon collection and the characters in my head. I enjoy reading–mostly young adult novels–as well as drawing, painting, and quilting. I also attend writing conferences, walk with my husband, and enjoy music and dance of all kinds.
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