Usha and Arlo meet in the gladiatorial Circus, she as a recaptured slave who must fight for her life, he as a Natural who’s been raised among citizens and who is now trying to return to the Regions outside the city to find his family. With others who are caught up in their escape, they flee to the inhospitable regions outside Genopolis but find danger there as well.

This is a fairly conventional story of a near future where society is divided after a natural apocalypse. The Citizens of Genopolis are the result of genetic manipulation to remove fear and pain, the better to cope with the hazards life brings. The Gemini are clones, either for slavery or as spare body parts for the elderly rich. The Naturals live outside the city in the wilderness Regions and are despised by the Citizens. They have a tribal lifestyle and give birth naturally. They retain the emotions which the Citizens have either genetically removed or otherwise suppressed. Arlo is an experiment: a Natural raised as a Citizen. Usha is a Gemini who runs away when she realises that she’s merely to be used as spare parts, (literally cannibalised).

The story is engaging enough in its development, although it follows conventional lines. The children are going to make allies and enemies along the way before they meet by chance and decide to travel to the Regions. Although the genetically manipulated Citizens are clearly on the wrong side of both our main characters, the Naturals we meet are little better in their tribal brutality. The Citizens who rebel against the system and try to help Arlo to escape are those who are trying to return to the emotions which they’ve lost

Tim Golden is a computer programmer living in London. He is also the editor of goodtoread.org.