Halfskin, by Tony Bertauski

16193991The biomites can do anything. They can fix your bad vision. They can make your metabolism run faster. They can cure your cancer. They can even repair the severe injuries caused by deadly car accidents. But at what point do you stop being mostly human and become mostly nanobot? If you’re Nix or Cali in Tony Bertaiski’s Halfskin, you’re human as long as you feel human. If you’re Marcus Anderson, it’s when you cross the 40% nanobot mark. At 50%, Anderson will order the mites to shut down and let you die.

Short blog excerpts throughout Halfskin catch us up on the relevant history. Biomites were developed to help wounded soldiers. The mites became more and more sophisticated, to the point where they could regrow amputated limps and fix chemical imbalances. After they were released for civilian use, biomites became more and more ubiquitous. Of course, people misused them. And it was only a matter of time before politicians came up with the Halfskin Laws. At 40% mite “infestation,” citizens could be detained. At 50%, they would be “shutdown.” Bertauski is very good at creating realistic euphemisms.

Nix, who was in the car crash that kills his parents, knew it was only a matter of time before he was detained. His injuries as a child were so severe that only biomites could save him. His sister, Cali, is a talented biomite engineer and for years, she’s been trying to find a way to save her brother. In their America, it’s impossible to hide because all biomites are traceable by a program called M0ther. Nix’s mite levels are close to the 50% mark when Cali makes a breakthrough. Not only has she made untrackable mites, but her new breed are capable of astounding things.

Cali arranges a messy, near disastrous escape for her brother. Through this short book, they are persued by the zealous Marcus Anderson. No one has escaped from M0ther before. It shouldn’t be possible. Anderson truly believes that people who cross the 40% mark are no longer human and he loathes them. Anderson is, unfortunately, a weak point in this very interesting story. He’s a stock religious zealot/villain and is very predictable. Nix and Cali and their new abilities are much more fun to read about.

I received a free review copy of this ebook from NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.