“That’s another reason why I like it out there: things were left to nature to figure it out, and nature tends to be smarter than people.”The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore (Chapter 3)
There’s something about strolling the stacks at the library and finding a book by an author you haven’t read, and then discovering that book is a complete gem. That’s what happened to me the other day when I found The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore. The book is middle grade fiction set in the near-ish future where the community of Old Harmonie is a type of utopia. However, things are never quite as they seem.
Mori’s grandmother was a scientist and founder of Old Harmonie. Because of her vision and others like her, Mori and her friends enjoy a peaceful and safe life on Firefly Lane. When new girl Ilana joins their group, things begin to change. She’s just a little too perfect and Mori wonders if Ilana is a natural or designed.
Parents in Old Harmonie can dampen and enhance their children’s genetic traits. When the kids turn 13, they also get their “latency” which is an awakening or “turning on” of a trait that will help serve them as they grow into adults. For some it may be more physical, a type of athleticism, while for others it’s something more cerebral like puzzle-solving. Mori’s not sure what her latency will be, but she knows she loves the outdoors and plants. It turns out Ilana shares those interests as well, but the new girl acts strangely at times and that worries Mori and the others.
The Firefly Code explores the growth of friendship, as well as the coming-of-age in a society where it’s increasingly difficult to determine what’s real. Is the world outside Old Harmonie actually dangerous? What really happened to Mori the one and only time she was sick? Who is Ilana and why did she come to Firefly Lane? When her secret finally is revealed, the Firefly 5 has to decide what defines true friendship and humanity.
I enjoyed this book immensely and highly recommend it to middle grade and teen readers as well as adults. The characters are likable as well as easy to relate to, and the primary themes will speak to any reader.
The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore is a Bank Street Books Best Book of the Year (2017 Edition). Its sequel is The Daybreak Code. You can find more about the author and her books at her website: meganfrazer.com.