In a society where everyone’s DNA determines their destiny, being a Natural means automatic relegation to the gritty and dangerous Outskirts. With the harnessed power of gene-editing, the ability to create a super-human race has transformed the world and offered the opportunity of a genetically enhanced life. But only to those who can afford it.
Born a Natural, Lee Urban was adopted into the Enhanced high society of the Asian Federation and forced to conceal her genetic roots. When her dream of attending Peking University becomes a reality, she is determined to go despite a warning from a mysterious source.
Targeted by a hacker bent on exposing her true DNA, Urban faces off with an Artificial Intelligence Game that puts her—and her lies—to the test. What was supposed to be a dream come true turns into a lethal gamble of hide-and-seek with her genetics. Can Urban continue the act, or will the cracks in her story expose her and endanger her family?
Candace Kade grew up in China and currently lives in Austin, Texas. When she’s not missing Chinese food, she’s busy writing, exploring new countries, volunteering, hiking in national parks, teaching her husband Mandarin, and keeping a baby human alive.
More from Candace
Have you ever felt like you don’t belong?
It could be something as small as showing up at a party alone to something bigger like moving to a new city.
In ENHANCED, Urban also feels like she doesn’t belong. In New Beijing in the year 2124, everyone has amazing genetic enhancements given to them through CRISPR gene-editing technology.
Everyone, except Urban.
New Beijing is full of humans with breath-taking DNA. Inceptors with brain enhancements allowing them to read micro facial expressions, Supers who can withstand hard hits and extreme temperatures, Aquas able to breathe underwater, and more. There are eight main gene pools, and Urban doesn’t belong in any of them.
Instead, Urban’s born a Natural, without genetic enhancements, and secretly adopted into New Beijing. She’s forced to hide her genetic roots to protect her family, and pretends to be something she’s not—enhanced.
Urban’s story is personal to me.
As a Third Culture Kid, I’ve spent most of my life straddling two worlds and, trying to fit into places I felt I didn’t belong. At the age of four, my family moved from Ohio to China. I spent my childhood as the only foreign kid at my Chinese schools, neighborhood, and sports teams.
Since then, I’ve often returned to China. I was actually living and working there while writing ENHANCED.
Despite the frequent trips, I didn’t feel “American enough” or “Chinese enough” growing up. Maybe it’s because I botched most American sayings. Maybe it’s because no matter how good my Mandarin was, people looked at my white skin and assumed I didn’t belong in China.
It’s taken me years to come to peace with this.
Urban struggles with something similar. She must balance the Enhanced and Natural worlds all while trying to keep her web of lies from tangling and tripping her up. Which, of course, gets harder when she’s selected as the next AI Games contestant.
When I wrote this book, I was living in Beijing and going through one of the hardest seasons in my life. I had never felt so lonely. There was a song that brought me great comfort during this time. The chorus goes:
I played that song on repeat while writing Enhanced. It reminded me that God sees us and knows us intimately. With him, we are never truly alone.
I wrote this book for anyone who feels like they slip between the cracks of society—like they don’t belong. My hope is that you feel seen and understood.
You’re not alone.
Enhanced is a young adult/sci-fi book by new to me author Candace Kade. This is not my typical go to read, but I enjoyed the story and look forward to more from this author. This book drew me in pretty quickly. This is a story where in this society where everyone’s DNA determines their destiny. In this society there are two different types of people. There are the naturals and the enhanced. The difference is that the enhanced has altered/modified DNA that happens while in the womb to give them an advantage.
Born a Natural, Lee Urban was adopted into the Enhanced high society of the Asian Federation and forced to conceal her genetic roots. However someone threatens to expose her true roots. All Urban wants to do is follow her dream of attending Peking University. She has to fake her social score in order to stay not let anyone know her true roots.
This book is set 100 years in the future - where genetic engineering exists. It's set in Asia. The author did a really good job in setting the scenery. The book takes you on a roller coaster. I could not read fast enough.
Thank you to the author, publisher and Celebrate Lit for allowing me to read a copy of this book - all thoughts are my own.