Select

Select

by Marit Weisenberg

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Overview

A modern-day Romeo and Juliet with a supernatural twist that will appeal to fans of Ally Condie (Matched) and Kiera Cass (The Selection).

Julia Jaynes has the perfect life. The perfect family. The perfect destiny. The daughter of a billionaire investor in Austin, Texas, it looks like Julia has it all. But there's something rotten beneath the surface‒dangerous secrets her father is keeping; abilities she was never meant to have; and an elite society of highly evolved people who care nothing for the rest of humanity. So when Julia accidentally jeopardizes the delicate anonymity of her people, she's banished to the one place meant to make her feel inferior: public high school. 

Julia's goal is to lay low and blend in. Then she meets him‒John Ford. He’s popular, quiet, intense, and strangely compelling. Then Julia discovers she can read his mind and her world expands. Their forbidden love is powerful enough to break the conditioning that has kept Julia in the cold grip of her manipulative father.  For the first time, Julia develops a sense of self and questions her restrictive upbringing and her family prejudices. She must decide how she will define herself—and whom she will betray.
 
“. . . a mighty twist at the end to look forward to.” –Kirkus Reviews

“. . . the perfect combination between sci-fi and YA literature.” – A reviewer at NetGalley

“. . . unique, fast-paced, intriguing and interesting.” –A reviewer at NetGalley

“I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the Twilight series and paranormal romance.” –A reviewer at NetGalley

“Brilliant plot.” –A reviewer at NetGalley

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781580898065
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Series: Select Series , #1
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Marit Weisenberg received her BA in English from Bowdoin College and her Master’s Degree from UCLA's school of Theater, Film and Television. She has worked in film and television development at Warner Brothers, Universal, and Disney. She lives in Austin with her husband and two daughters.
Marit’s debut YA novel is Select, and she worked on the first draft of the book over the course of eighteen months during Amanda Eyre Ward’s class ‘Write a Novel in a Year.’ As of now, there will be two books in The Select series. The series continues with Select Few.

Read an Excerpt

Select


By Marit Weisenberg

Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.

Copyright © 2017 Marit Weisenberg
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-58089-806-5


CHAPTER 1

AUGUST


"Julia!"

That startled me. I turned my head, tucking my hair behind my ear so I could see Angus come to stand beside me.

"Hey." He stopped and focused on the wall-length curved panel. The light of the TV sliced into the dimly lit room, rudely cutting through the Zen-like atmosphere. I thought my family would just flash across the screen, but the camera held on them.

"Novak Jaynes and his wife, Dr. Victoria Jaynes, major donors to the new University of Texas Medical School, are here with their daughter." You could tell the commentator was unsure of what he was allowed to say, and that he wished the camera would move on. Due to a well-publicized Securities and Exchange Commission investigation, this year there would be no hailing "the Oracle of Austin" — my dad, the investor with preternatural abilities.

Angus was temporarily still while he watched Novak, Victoria, and my sister in their suite at the football stadium. I was impressed with Liv. I knew the toll this must be taking on her, trying to keep the public from penetrating the imaginary wall of glass Novak had taught us all to erect. No one in my family looked overwhelmed by the sensory overload of the football game or by the fact that people — now a cameraman — were studying them. It was impossible not to stare. Even for me. They were a perfectly matched, elegant family, with their sun-streaked brown hair and beautiful, fine features, although now my sister was taking it to a different level. It was like they'd externalized being members of the One Percent.

Angus paused to look again — at my almost-grown-up sister, I knew — a second longer than I would have liked before getting back to business.

"Come on. They're waiting for us," he said.

To my surprise Angus ran his hand down my tattooed arm before catching my wrist, then my hand, and pulling me out of the room. We interlaced fingers. He didn't ask why I wasn't at the game. He knew. Everyone knew I wasn't invited. But Angus was maybe the only person who actually seemed more interested in me than in them.

A voice in my head whispered that maybe he only wanted me for what he thought I could teach him.

"You suddenly interested in UT football?" Angus joked lightly.

I laughed and said, "Very interested in football."

But I was embarrassed I'd been caught watching.

We walked hand in hand through Paul's parents' many living rooms. Through the windows we could see some of our group wrestling on the grass in the side yard. When we stepped outside, Angus immediately dropped my hand.

I didn't understand why it hadn't happened between us yet. Every night this summer I thought he would make the first move. Maybe he was waiting for me to take the first step, but I wanted it to come from him. He got everything he wanted, and I didn't want to fall in his lap too.

The moment I stepped outdoors, I felt as if I were enveloped in a swamp. Not everything could be controlled, I guess. But the landscape was lush. Only money could tame a garden like this into submission in the August heat of Texas. The harshness of the black gravel contrasted with the softness of the flowers, the symmetry of the stone pathways, and the soothing paleness of the white-brick monolith behind me.

The boys were unusually sweaty. T-shirts clung to shoulder blades, and I could see beads of perspiration on those necks not covered with light brown hair. They looked uniform with their honey coloring. I was always aware of how I stood out.

Angus and I came to stand near the boys, waiting patiently for them to finish playing. Next to me, Angus removed his hand from the back of his neck, revealing one tattoo. His arms were covered with ink as well — designs of black bands around them, as if he were in mourning. I wasn't sure if it was in honor of our ancestors or if it was a statement about his current situation. I could tell he felt me appraising him, and I quickly looked away.

We watched the dog pile. The boys looked like they were going to kill each other tonight. Their cuts and bruises would be unusually bad, but at least they would disappear quickly.

I noticed Paul standing off the path and directly on top of some landscaping, size-thirteen boots crushing flowering ground cover — a minor fuck-you to his parents. He lit a cigarette and, through that first cloud of smoke, squinted up at us as we joined the all-male group. Instantly Paul's body language changed, now less the punk and ready to defer to Angus. And when they realized Angus was there, none of the boys resisted the instinct to turn their bodies to face him, in an act of deference and respect — the same as we all did when my father was in the room. I wasn't sure if Angus was aware of it, but when it was just the two of us he in turn angled his body toward me.

Sebastian had been blocking my view of Ellis, and when he shifted I saw what was going on. A knife was plunged into Ellis's right hand — a steak knife with a curved silver blade protruding from his golden flesh. There wasn't the least sign of blood. The boys stopped wrestling all at once and gathered around, watching and taunting, voices too loud for the serene setting on the water. Driving it deeper, Ellis maintained his impassive face, and the group, fiercely competitive with one another, attempted to look unimpressed. Ellis was getting good.

All at once he crashed, turning white as the blood drained from his face. Angus broke through the group, grasped the handle, and in a smooth, confident maneuver removed the knife. I saw the deep wound between the knuckles begin to seep just a bare amount of dark-red, almost-black, blood. Well done, I thought. Ellis had almost controlled his response to the pain. Now he seemed to be recovering. He hid his compromised hand behind his back, wanting to protect it from the critical eye of the group.

"I should go," I said, always aware I was the only girl.

"She didn't like the trick," Cyrus said, laughing.

Despite that I'd grown up with these seven boys and that no one in this group would ever think of doing anything to hurt me, I felt vaguely uneasy when I looked around. Over the past year they had transformed their appearance like I had. They were deeply attractive, but they appeared hardened now with their abundance of tattoos and scars. And they were in fact hardened after a year of living with their wings clipped.

I reminded myself it didn't matter that I was the only female. It had just been me for the past year. I couldn't help thinking that if any other girls had been included in our particular group, things wouldn't be as out of control. There was too much testosterone. Every night the boys wanted to play in secret, practicing skills we didn't understand and weren't supposed to explore — thanks to me and my moment of weakness telling Angus what had happened last spring.

I had explicitly disobeyed Novak when I shared my secret, wanting to impress Angus. Novak had warned me not to say anything after I'd gathered my courage and told him about the odd experience I'd had on a ski trip to Park City, Utah.

It had started with a stupid mistake. I'd locked myself out on my bedroom balcony when I went to smoke a cigarette in the middle of the night. For hours I'd been trapped in the well-below-freezing temperature in shorts and a T-shirt, kicking myself because the cigarette wasn't even worth it — it had no short-term or long-term effects on us. It was just something to do. I told my father how, instinctively, I closed my eyes and focused inward, visualizing the color blue turning to warm red, and I must have raised my core temperature, because I didn't feel cold while I was stranded out there. Then I showed Novak how, if I concentrated my energies on an object, I could move it or even break it — like a door lock, which is how I got back into the ski house after I eventually grew bored waiting for someone to come rescue me.

I was surprised how fast he shut me down. "Those are only tricks. We're capable, but we don't practice them because they aren't worth the exposure. Don't tell anyone what happened, and don't do them again. Understood?"

Immediately I felt like an idiot because I actually thought I'd done something extraordinary. Apparently it was nothing. I had irrationally hoped it would be enough to get me moved to the other set of teenagers in our group. In keeping with tradition, those sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds were finally getting answers about themselves and all the inexplicable things we could do. Those of us who remained, myself and the other teenagers in my group were the first of our kind ever to be kept in the dark. I thought of us as the Lost Kids.

Paul suddenly began to back away from the group, walking toward the driveway. We understood. We could all sense there were suddenly more of us in the vicinity. His parents were almost home. Moments later we could hear their car driving toward us, just a few blocks away now.

"Come on." Angus breezed past his friends, walking toward his brand-new and badly dented black BMW without giving them a glance. He knew they would follow.

"Where to?" Rob unfolded his long body from a steel bench and stretched, showing off defined abs.

"Julia!" Angus pulled my attention away from Rob. I could tell Angus noticed I was noticing, and he didn't like it. I smiled to myself, feeling more optimistic about tonight. I walked down the path to join him and arched an eyebrow. Whatever trepidation I was feeling inside, I had almost complete confidence I was masking it. Even if I was the bastard child and a Lost Kid, I was Julia Jaynes, Novak's daughter. And I owned it. Because if I didn't, I'd have no place in the world.

"Where do you want to go tonight?" Angus looked in my eyes and, briefly, we shared a moment. I knew he was wondering if I would play along tonight and that he was willing to try to charm me into it. I didn't totally trust Angus, not after he broke his promise to me at the beginning of summer and showed these boys what I'd taught him how to do. They had taken the idea that they could assert their minds over their bodies and quickly gone to extremes. I understood: it felt good. It was a way to channel that pent-up feeling that physically hurt. But I couldn't show them anything else or Novak would kill me and he might punish the boys.

The ultimate threat of being left behind was almost enough to dissuade us from breaking the rules. Almost. More often the residual anger at being demoted and segregated from our other friends just empowered us to rebel.

Still, for tonight I could go along for the ride and enjoy as Angus continued to try to make it up to me for telling my secret.

"The train tracks," I said. I tossed my hair and stood at my full five feet four inches. It was an announcement, not a question. I saw surprise and respect on Angus's face.

"You going to jump trains with us tonight, Julia?" he asked flirtatiously. We all started pairing off and climbing into the collection of luxury sports cars in the circular drive of Paul's parents' contemporary monstrosity. We weren't that far from my house.

"We'll see," I flirted back. I wished I could stop the blush that warmed my face when Angus opened the passenger door for me. I hated it. No one else in the group did that. Everybody seemed to have near-perfect command over their emotions and only showed what they wanted others to read.

Car doors slammed behind me in perfect unison. Angus and I would lead them where I wanted to go. It was a powerful feeling. Train jumping should distract them. It was challenging enough. They might not ask for more.

CHAPTER 2

"Julia. Wake up."

I was in such a deep sleep — finally — it took me a moment to surface and realize my sister was standing over me. Her hand was on my shoulder, gently shaking me awake. My eyes snapped into focus, and I quickly sat up.

I was so glad to see her, but then I was scared. "What's wrong? What's going on?" She never came into my room anymore. I knew it was because she was uncomfortable. In keeping with Liv's new status, her mother had had us switch bedrooms this summer — my old bedroom had been the bigger one with the better view. Now it was Liv's. I didn't blame her, though. It hadn't been her decision. She could have it. We wouldn't be here too much longer anyway. I smiled indulgently, having missed spending time with my little sister. It was only a bedroom, I told myself.

"No. Nothing, nothing. It's okay. I didn't mean to scare you. I just came to say hi." Liv perched on the side of my bed, blocking the clock, dragging a finger along the white blanket. The blackout shades were drawn, but she was fully dressed, giving me the feeling I'd slept in and it was afternoon.

"What time is it?" I sounded like a frog, so I cleared my throat. My mouth felt like an ashtray. Liv remained where she was. It felt like we hadn't been this physically close in months. Reluctantly, it seemed, she stood up and walked to the shades. Disappointed, I realized this interaction would still have the tinge of awkwardness.

"It's ten. Do you mind?"

"Go ahead."

She stood up and slapped at the panel on the side of the wall. The shades retracted and an expansive view of the Lake Austin appeared, but I had seen it a million times. I took in my sister.

Liv could have been from my dreams. She was so beautiful. Like me, Liv had my dad's blue eyes. But that was the extent of any similarity between us. She had high cheekbones that set off the small, perfect features of her heart-shaped face. Her thick, long hair almost matched her skin tone. Tall and willowy at five ten, she somehow also had curves. I wasn't used to it yet. She had been a late bloomer, and it had happened so fast over the course of this summer, just as she turned sixteen. It felt strange to live with someone your whole life, and then suddenly you needed to adjust to their physical appearance every time you saw them.

"So, what's up?" I felt self-conscious in my tank top, and smelling like cigarettes. And I was sure my hair was a mess. I didn't like being surprised.

"What'd you guys do last night?" Liv asked, then wandered over to where my guitar sat in a corner and picked it up. Help yourself, I thought, mildly annoyed. Liv tuned the already perfectly tuned guitar while pretending she wasn't listening intently for my answer.

"Nothing. The usual," I said.

"What's the usual?" she asked.

"Just hanging around. I don't know. Why?" There was an edge in my voice. Had she heard something? Why was she suddenly so fascinated by what the Lost Kids and I were doing?

"No, I just — you guys make it seem like you're always off having so much fun."

She had to be kidding. She made it sound like we'd turned a negative into a positive. That we weren't dying for the training they were getting, that we weren't just looking for things to do, biding our time.

"Trust me, we aren't." Liv glanced up at my sharp reminder.

"You all seem close, like a secret club."

Maybe the Lost Kids and I tried to pretend we were the cool ones, but Liv couldn't seriously envy a group of rejects forced into humiliatingly typical teenage rebellion.

I tried changing the subject. "Hey, how was your first soccer practice yesterday?"

"Fine," Liv said shortly, clearly not wanting to talk about it. I could tell she was frustrated. Liv was good at soccer, but she wasn't nearly as good as I'd been. I knew that must kill my stepmother. I wondered if being compared with me ever bothered Liv.

Liv wouldn't look at me, I realized. I heard her heart rate accelerate, which was highly unusual for any of us. So now we were getting to the real reason she was here.

"What are you doing today?"

"I'm not sure. Why? What are you doing? Is Dad home?" I suddenly sat up straighter.

"No, I don't know," Liv said quickly. "I was wondering.. .. You're probably going with that group to swim at Barton Springs?"

"What?" I felt like I wasn't getting what she was saying.

"Angus. You know?" That instantly got my attention. I nodded warily. "He texted me about it," she said.

Many things were strange and wrong about this — mostly, why in the world would Angus be texting my little sister? I didn't like that at all. Also, our two groups didn't mix, and we definitely didn't go out in groups to public places. All those outsiders. All that noise. And most of all, the exposure. What was Angus up to? The risk taking was escalating. A nod was all I could manage. "Can you hold on for a second?" The lift of her eyebrows indicated, Of course.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Select by Marit Weisenberg. Copyright © 2017 Marit Weisenberg. Excerpted by permission of Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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