Evan Angler’s middle-grade novel Swipe takes place at a future time when society has been through ecological upheaval, shortages, plague, and war. But leaders General Lamson and Chancellor Cylis have remedied all that with many innovations including the mark, a nano-dust arm tattoo every 13-year-old gets on his or her birthday. This makes each a full member of society, able to get a job, earn money, bank, and vote.
For Logan Langly and his family, life goes along smoothly in the small town of Spokie until the day Logan’s older sister Lily goes to get her mark and never returns. Now Logan’s 13th is just around the corner and he’s jumpy. What if the same thing happens to him? Add to that the fact that he feels like he’s being watched and things in his room get moved while he’s out. Despite his obsessive checking of the whole house morning and night, he never catches the culprit.
Enter Erin, the new girl from Beacon City. Her dad works for Dome, the futuristic equivalent of the CIA. She hates it that she had to leave her mom and home because of Dad’s job. She snoops through his stuff with a view to helping him solve his case in Spokie speedily so her family can be together again. With her code-cracking, internet savvy smarts, she’s soon up to her neck in mystery as she joins Logan in his quest to find out if there truly is someone following him, why, and whether Lily’s disappearance was sinister or just an explainable mark intolerance.
I loved the book’s setting which gives us Angler’s answers to questions like, What if fuel runs out? What if land is at a premium? What if all the trees are dead? What if paper is rare to non-existent? What if people are discouraged from thinking for themselves?
Main character Logan is sympathetic and likeable, though a little wimpy. Strong girl Erin makes this a PC book that will help it pass muster with the feminists (and their mothers) in the crowd. The book’s intended middle-grade audience will relate well, I think, to the dynamics between characters at school and in social settings, like a futuristic rock concert complete with wailing mitts.