Megan Frazer Blakemore, The Firefly Code, Bloomsbury, 1 Dec 2017, 368pp., $11.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9781681195278
Diving into this book, I immediately felt like I’d missed a previous book because Blakemore writes as if you’re stepping into a conversation that’s already happening. While it took me awhile to understand the relationships and the friendships, and indeed Old Harmonie, I began to appreciate Blakemore’s writing as she began to fill in the blanks, while progressing the story ever forward. It’s an easier way to understand this world than having huge chunks of exposition.
Mori and her friends live in Firefly Lane in Old Harmonie. This is an almost Stepford world, where everything is perfect, and kids are genetically adjusted to be able to figure out what they want to do with their lives and their futures. It’s almost as if no one is allowed to be imperfect. And at the core are Mori, Julia, Benji and Theo.
These four are dynamic young characters, who are far from perfect like their community. They’re normal kids, who argue and make-up, and hang out together. Into this group, comes Ilana, who seems to be just a little too perfect, even by Old Harmonie’s standards.
The mystery behind Ilana is revealed as the kids grapple with how her presence is affecting their existing friendships – something anyone can relate to. Old friendships are comfortable, but new ones help us grow and change, and that’s what the kids have to understand about each other.
From that point on, Blakemore’s themes encourage readers to consider what makes them who they are – their parents and their genetics, or their experiences, their friendships – like I said, heavy stuff.
For the most part, Blakemore pulls this off, but she also delves into the history of Old Harmonie through Mori’s past. This is important given the choices the kids make at the end of the story, but exposition through history is always tricky. Blakemore has an interesting way of adding this to the book and connecting it to our main character, but it does make for some slow going in parts.
As this is the first in a series, the book ends with a bit of a cliffhanger as they being their journey to help Ilana. Here’s to more exciting adventures for the Firefly Five!
Reviewed by Verushka Byrow