For What It's Worth

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Review: Solid by Shelley Workinger


Clio Kaid may be 17 and just beginning
the last summer before her senior year, 
but her life is anything but typical. 

She's just discovered she was genetically 
altered before birth and is now headed to 
a top-secret Army campus to explore the 
surprising results of the experiment. 

Follow Clio and the other teens as they 
develop fantastic super-abilities, forge new 
friendships, find love, and uncover a  
conspiracy along the way.

Clio (Calliiope) is used to being shuffled from school to school each year and for the most part makes the most of meeting new people. She is an instantly likable character. Clio is a rare specimen in YA literature these days, she has a positive outlook on life and makes the best of things. 

Clio: "Not everyone gets the chance to start a new life pretty much every year, and it can be interesting if you're willing to embrace it."

She's feeling even more positive than usual because this new school year will be different. All the kids are new and on equal footing. Clio and her accompanying classmates were invited to this military run campus for children because they are products of an earlier scientific experiment with as yet unknown results. 
Years earlier a Colonel/Dr./ Heigl had given an experimental drug to unknowing pregnant women across different military bases to alter their chromosomes and hopefully genetically enhance the children, giving them special talents. Think X-Men….invisibility, repulsion, super athletic abilities. Dr. Heigl had altered the ninth chromosome which mainly affected their muscle and tissue systems - or solidity. 
The school was built to bring these children together and assess their abilities. What is interesting is that none of the kids feel they are anything special. Neither their parents nor they have ever noticed anything out of the ordinary. It's only when the experiments come to light and they are informed that they even realize anything is different. 
All of the families come from a  military background where they are used to obeying authority and moving around frequently so it's not that unbelievable that the parents would turn the kids over to the school or that the teenagers wouldn't have a difficult time adapting. Kids from military families tend to roll with the punches. The are given assurances that this is for their benefit. The group just wants to see what effect the experiments may have had. Blood work and a few tests, some counseling and then you can go back to life as usual. No big deal.
Then some strange things start happening. The first being that after all the kids get a chance to call their parents on that first night the phone lines always seem to be down or they only get their parents voice mail, as well as intermittent internet access. The kids may be trusting of the military but readers know better. No good can come from a government intervention when there has been scientific experimentation and talk of super powers!
As Clio and her friends start to realize that they do indeed have powers, they also begin to question authority and do some spying. 
Solid is a good YA sci-fi story. A little on the younger side I think - if you have read James Patterson's Maximum Ride series and enjoyed it then I think you would enjoy this one also. There is some romance and I really enjoyed Jack & Clio's encounters but it is definitely on the tamer side which should appeal to folks who are tired of the typical hyper sexualized teen romances out there. (Hey - I'm not knocking them - I like them! But it's good to have something for the younger set.)
The middle of the book got bogged down in favor of establishing the friendships and romance. I was quite happy to see them addressed but it was at the expense of the action. The genetic mutations are such a cool plot device and this was a group of really interesting characters so I would have liked to see them doing more with their powers.
The ending has a few twists and turns and amps the action up a few notches. At 221 pages, it also a quick read. It's nice to have a few of those once in awhile too.
This is the beginning of a series but Solid felt like a complete - finished story so you won't be left hanging but there is also enough to wonder about for the next book Settling.

Rating: 3 out of 4
Source: Copy provided by the author for review

Buy the book! Solid

Find Shelley & Solid on the web:


  1. The thought of anyone being genetically altered is so scary, don't you think? Still, it sounds like a good read of exploration.

  2. I'm still torn each way about whether to buy this. I lean towards older YA in general, but have read younger leaning ones before. Maybe I won't buy it and just try and find it in a library- or buy a really cheap and *shudder* second-hand copy. I'm very interested about the book though so I won't rule it out too soon.