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Georgia Blain

I am a Lotto Girl. I should not be here. Why haven’t they come for me?

Fern Marlow is alone, datawiped and in hiding. Her mobie says she’s Delia Greene, a ReCorp refuse sorter. Every day she queues to work, to earn just enough to stay alive. Every night she dreams of the past and the life she’s meant to be living, back at Halston, an exclusive school for those wealthy enough - or lucky enough - to be genetically designed.

Her rescuers said her former life was a lie, that she can trust no one. They also said they’d come back for her, and they haven’t.

Fern doesn’t know who to believe. To uncover the truth, and save herself, Fern must answer the one question she can’t face. Is she special?

An alarming glimpse into our future from acclaimed Australian author Georgia Blain.


I’ve been suffering from ‘dystopian fatigue’ lately, so the idea of yet another story set in a broken and not-too distant future is enough to send my eyes rolling into the back of my head. But unlike much of the genre, acclaimed Australian author Georgia Blain’s imagined future goes way beyond the typical ‘fight for survival’ story and confronts the reader with big questions about the search for identity, purpose and meaning; Special is smart, complex, nuanced and deeply thought provoking.

Fern, the protagonist, is a young adult in hiding: completely exhausted by gruelling, menial labour she toils to scratch out a living in the harsh and unforgiving environment of a ruined world. Raised the lucky recipient of ‘special’ genetic engineering and nurtured by exclusive education and beautiful surroundings, Fern is forced by the trials and ordeals of her desolate present to question her privileged past; only when she confronts the truth of her origins can she dare hope for a brighter future.

Fern’s quest becomes ours as she searches for answers in a world here trust is elusive: does her genetic advantage make her ‘special’ or was it access to the best of everything that made the difference? What effect does the perception of being ‘special’ have? Are the differences between us real or just an illusion? And ultimately, what makes us who we are?

Here at last is a dystopian story that challenges us with big themes and ideas; Special is a must read for those who love smart, sophisticated storytelling – girls in particular will love following Fern’s development journey from unlikable, incurious child to a thoughtful and spirited young adult. Recommended for readers 13 years and up.

Athina Clarke is a Children’s & YA Book Specialist at Readings Malvern.

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