Genesis Girl (Blank Slate #1)
Author: Jennifer Bardsley
Genre: YA Science Fiction/Dystopia
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.
Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.
Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.
By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.
How Opera’s Dirty Secret Inspired “Genesis Girl”
Imagine you are a mother living in rural Italy in the 1700’s. You have ten children to care for, five more buried in the church graveyard, and one baby on the way. Every night your babies go to bed hungry because you are so poor. It seems like there is nothing you can do that will improve your family’s desperate situation until the local choir master provides an answer.
One of your sons, let’s call him Giovani, shows musical potential. The choir master knows a guy who’s traveling the Italian countryside performing a special operation. If Giovani is selected, he can receive the best musical education in the world—for free—and someday he might even be rich and famous.
As a mother, wouldn’t you want what’s best for your son? Sure you would. Unfortunately, that better life comes at a great cost. Giovani must be castrated.
Castrati were the superstars of the opera world. They could hit the highest notes because they were deformed at a young age. Physically, castrati were often tall, barrel chested, and long-limbed. Lack of testosterone caused their body shape to be different from their peers, like geldings compared to stallions. Their enlarged chests resulted from intense breath and vocal training at the elite musical schools they attended.
But sadly for Giovani and boys like him, most castrati did not go on to become superstars. They left their schools maimed, ridiculed, and shunned.
When I first learned about castrati back in college I thought it was the most messed up thing I had ever heard. Who would do that to their child? But now that I’m older, I realize parents do horrible things to their children all the time in their quest for fame. Hello, Honey Boo Boo.
When I was crafting the Sci-Fi world of Genesis Girl, I imagined what castrati would like in the digital age. Blanca’s parents castrate her digital identity and send her off to Tabula Rasa School in hopes that she will have a better future. Every year Tabula Rasa graduates ten students who become Vestals, international superstars known for never being online.
Like the castrati, Blanca, is thrust into a high-stakes situation. Either she needs to be the best, or be ruined. Or perhaps, Blanca is ruined already and just doesn’t know it.
How far would you go for your children to have a better life? The next time you turn on the radio and listen to some music, think hard about that question.
Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for The Everett Daily Herald. Her debut YA novel, “Genesis Girl” will be published by Month9Books on June 14, 2016, with the sequel releasing in 2017. “Genesis Girl” is about a teenager who has never been on the Internet. Jennifer however, is on the web all the time as “The YA Gal” with over 20,000 followers on Facebook, and 15,000 followers on Instagram. On Facebook, she hosts the weekly instant book club called #TakeALookTuesday where YA Gal friends geek out, share pictures of what they are reading, and chat about books. Jennifer is a member of SCBWI, The Sweet Sixteens debut author group, and is founder of Sixteen To Read. An alumna of Stanford University, Jennifer lives near Seattle, WA where she enjoys spending time with her family and her poodle, Merlin.
(1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm (US ONLY)
(5) winners will receive a digital copy of Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley (INT)
Ends July 2, 2016