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There’s a fine line between right and wrong. A lot of times, there isn’t even a line at all. Some of the biggest challenges faced by modern day society involve navigating this endless gray space, searching half-blind for any kind of telltale divide. The fast-paced novel Sinless by Sarah Tarkoff takes this issue and turns it on its head.

The teenage protagonist, Grace Luther, lives in a near-future world where morality is possibly the easiest thing to tell about someone. Any person who is good and righteous is instantly rewarded with a perfect, beautiful appearance. However, the slightest ethical misstep could lead to a literally hideous punishment. In order to catch a liar in the act, just look at his face—not for shifty eyes or a nervous tic, but for an immediate disfigurement of features. This attack on one of the most idolized aspects of humankind results in a veritable utopia, with crime and cruelty practically nonexistent. But perhaps everything is not as perfect as it seems. As the plot escalates in this exciting science-fiction-fantasy, Grace’s very beliefs are challenged anew with every turning page.

Dark and thrilling, Sinless steps into the ranks of middle-grade dystopian favorites, such as Divergent, Uglies, The Maze Runner, and Lois Lowry’s classic The Giver. This story boasts just the right amount of science fiction, religion, and romance for an instant success. Sarah Tarkoff weaves a very entertaining tale with this novel, one that flows seamlessly and leaves the reader thinking about it for a while after the final page is turned. This book will surely appeal to a broad audience, such as fans of the aforementioned series, though, like those, it is rather intense and definitely no children’s story.

Sinless is the first of the new series Eye of the Beholder, and it is certainly a grand entrance. Many who read it will be craving for the next in the series—I know I am.

Sinless by Sarah Tarkoff. Harper Voyager, 2018. Buy the book here and support Children's Art Foundation--Stone Soup in the process!

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