About the Book:
Gypsy (The Cavy Files, #1) by Trisha Leigh
Genre: YA Paranormal
Published May 13th, 2014
Inconsequential: not important or significant.
Synonyms: insignificant, unimportant, nonessential, irrelevant
In the world of genetic mutation, Gypsy’s talent of knowing a person’s age of death is considered a failure. Her peers, the other Cavies, have powers that range from curdling a blood still in the vein to being able to overhear a conversation taking place three miles away, but when they’re taken from the sanctuary where they grew up and forced into the real world, Gypsy, with her all-but-invisible gift, is the one with the advantage.
The only one who’s safe, if the world finds out what they can do.
When the Cavies are attacked and inoculated with an unidentified virus, that illusion is shattered. Whatever was attached to the virus causes their abilities to change. Grow. In some cases, to escape their control.
Gypsy dreamed of normal high school, normal friends, a normal life, for years. Instead, the Cavies are sucked under a sea of government intrigue, weaponized genetic mutation, and crushing secrets that will reframe everything they’ve ever been told about how their “talents” came to be in the first place.
When they find out one of their own has been appropriated by the government, mistreated and forced to run dangerous missions, their desire for information becomes a pressing need. With only a series of guesses about their origins, the path to the truth becomes quickly littered with friends, enemies, and in the end, the Cavies ability to trust anyone at all.
About the Author:
Trisha Leigh is a product of the Midwest, which means it’s pop, not soda, garage sales, not tag sales, and you guys as opposed to y’all. Most of the time. She’s been writing seriously for five years now, and has published 4 young adult novels and 4 new adult novels (under her pen name Lyla Payne). Her favorite things, in no particular order, include: reading, Game of Thrones, Hershey’s kisses, reading, her dogs (Yoda and Jilly), summer, movies, reading, Jude Law, coffee, and rewatching WB series from the 90’s-00’s.
Her family is made up of farmers and/or almost rock stars from Iowa, people who numerous, loud, full of love, and the kind of people that make the world better. Trisha tries her best to honor them, and the lessons they’ve taught, through characters and stories—made up, of course, but true enough in their way.
Trisha is the author of THE LAST YEAR series and the WHITMAN UNIVERSITY books. She’s represented by Kathleen Rushall at Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
The library is one of the bigger rooms in the house, converted from what used to be the upstairs parlor. The Professor looks out a window that overlooks the back lawn. Shelves, sagging with dusty books, cover every inch of the light blue, fifteen-foot walls. The morning sunlight still lingers around the front of the house, making this space dim, but motes of dust twirl and waltz like members of a royal court on the pale, reaching beams.
All at once, happiness floods my bloodstream, as though someone smacks good cheer into my chest cavity through my shoulder blades. The strange desire to burst into song hums along my nerve endings, as though I’m a Disney princess summoning her bird and varmint attendants at the window. It takes serious concentration to bite back the urge.
The abrupt change in mood announces another Cavy’s presence, but as hard as I try to glare at Pollyanna, my mouth refuses to cooperate. Her mutation, a reverse empath alternation that allows her disposition to affect the moods of people in close proximity, is more…invasive than most. Losing control of my own mind never fails to make me feel icky.
And given her insistence on cynicism and anger, she’s not aptly named. Not at all.
“Feeling good, Gyspy?” She shakes out her long, blond hair and pins me with china-blue eyes. The faux-happy shroud crawling from her to me dissolves and my smile finally falls away. Polly nods. “That’s better. You look weird when you smile.”
“Pollyanna, we have spoken at length about the perils of using your gifts on your fellow Cavies.” The Professor’s patient, tired voice reprimands the youngest of his students, if only by several months.
The Philosopher, who runs Darley, took us in before we were three months old, and we all arrived between sixteen and seventeen years ago.
She’s not sorry, but his chastisement and her apology are part of our daily routine. Of all the kids here, Pollyanna is my least favorite. She’s everyone’s least favorite, and even though she knows it she doesn’t change. I guess she doesn’t care.
“Sorry for what? Fucking with people again?” The voice bleeds out of thin air before Haint shimmers into view around it, face first. She leans against one of the bookcases once her shoulder appears, examining her nails as she waits for her daily reprimand.
The Professor doesn’t disappoint. “Language, dear.”
He says nothing to me, not even hello, nor does he issue a warning to Haint about using her ability to go invisible. It’s not dangerous. Pollyanna could make any one of us walk straight off a cliff if she felt particularly suicidal that day.
The twins Athena and Goose arrive together, a tornado of rough-housing elbows and flashes of reddish hair, loosing half a shelf of books onto the floor and toppling an end table before getting themselves under control. The Professor ignores them, having long ago resigned himself to their antics.
We’re all here now, at least those who are expected. Mole is still enduring his weekly brain prodding and so is Reaper. They’re our lethal Cavies, and are kept for testing more often and for longer than the rest of us. We’re categorized according to our level of usefulness, the details of our mutations and abilities listed in records the Philosopher hopes might convince the government we could be potential assets as opposed to threats.
Three Operationals, two Substantials, one Developmental, three Unstables, and one Inconsequential. That’s me. The one who will never be an asset to anyone but can’t be locked away and forgotten like an Unstable, either. They don’t know what to do with me, so I shuffle along with the group.
“Everyone sit down, please.”
The Professor’s command sounds more like a genteel request, and we drop into a circle of cross-legged teenagers on the oval Oriental rug that smothers the center of the room. He paces behind us, passing binder-clipped pages into our waiting hands.
I grab mine, excited as the title filters through my eyes and into my brain. It’s a thesis, written by the Scientist back in the 1960s: Genetic Mutation and the Human Brain.
He died before any of us were born but his thoughts and experiments, his studies, help the scientists at Darley Hall figure out what might have caused the mutations that resulted in our “gifts.” Maybe one day they’ll figure out how to switch off those screwy genes and I can touch another person without at least one layer in between us. Without the protection, touching someone means seeing a number in my mind.
The age the other person is going to die.
My “talent” is creepy at best, totally useless at worst, and being able to get rid of it has been a hidden desire for the whole of my life.
“Oh, Lordy, I am so sorry! My mom’s always sayin’ I’m so clumsy I could trip over a cordless phone.”
A breathless, sweet, female voice chatters the apology as hands try, with little success, to drag me back to my feet using the straps of my backpack. She’s behind me, so not the person whose age of death I just saw in my first two minutes here.
“Are you okay?” A second voice, male and with a smooth, local drawl, mingles with the first.
The dead kid is a boy.
I jerk my hands into my chest, trying not to be obvious about it. Wishing with all my might I could take it back. Forget. Turn away without seeing the attached face. Of course there isn’t, and when my body remembers how to breathe again, I open my eyes.
He’s tall, a few inches over six feet, with hair the color of sand and eyes that shift between gold and brown, like maple syrup in the sunlight. More than the intriguing shade, it’s the genuine kindness in them that stands out to me. My heart flutters, then seizes.
Dead. He’s dead.
“It’s okay, I’ll live.” I wince at my choice of words and busy myself with brushing imaginary dust off the skirt of my uniform.
The clumsy girl stands as high as my shoulders, and the upturned nose and smattering of freckles combine with her chin-length white-blond hair to remind me of Tinkerbell. At least she seems to have a better attitude than the jealous, spiteful fairy.
Her pale eyes fling more apologies my direction, but I hold up my hand. “Really. No big deal.”
“Oh my gosh, thank you for being cool.” She grins, and it lights up her entire body. “I’m Maya.”
“How could you guess?”
“Because they rest of us learned to avoid Maya while she’s double-fisting coffee and a cell phone back in the seventh grade.” Oh, goodnight nurse. The boy who’s going to die before he graduates from high school would have eyes that make my stomach attempt to fly.
I imagine literal, iron plates of armor clicking into place over my face, my skin, my heart, then flick a glance his direction. I snatch my cell phone from his palm. “Thanks.”
“I’m Jude.” He sticks out his hand.
Even though my aversion remains, even though I don’t want to confirm what I saw, there’s no point in keeping to my hands off rule. Not touching him now won’t change anything.
“Norah,” I say again, laughing a little at the absurdity of repeating my name. Our hands touch, his skin soft and electric at the same time, like he scooted his feet across a shag carpet. The little hairs on my arms, at the back of my neck, stand up.
18. 18. 18.
I pull my hand away, fixing my smile and swinging back toward Maya. “You caught me, I’m new. And I’m supposed to be in the office but I have no idea where that is, so this is at least half my fault, stopping in the middle of the hall like that.”
“I’ll walk you. It’s right on my way,” the boy offers.
Maya rolls her eyes at me in a manner that suggests we’ve been sharing nonverbal cues for more than two minutes. “If you don’t want to be alone with Jude, I understand. But if you don’t care, I’m going to let him take you because I’m supposed to meet with the yearbook sponsor…” She glances at her phone. “Five minutes ago.”
“No, it’s fine. He’s fine.” Lord in heaven, did I just say that?
Maya snorts, and the heat in my face promises she didn’t miss my unintentional comment.
I grew up around boys, so snorts at double entendre isn’t exactly new to me, which only makes the fire in my cheeks all the more vexing. It’s surprising to learn that things can still embarrass me.
“You know, it’s not the first time I’ve heard that,” Jude jokes, his smile catching my attention.
My lips return it without permission, even though my face is about to melt off.
“Yes, it is,” Maya chirps. “It so is the first time he’s heard that. Norah, we’ll have lunch instead, okay?”
I nod, but she doesn’t see me because she’s already halfway down the hall, waving over her shoulder.
“Nah. Do you believe in fate?”
“Like, one true loves? Not really.” I’d never thought much about it, honestly. The future of a Cavy isn’t a concrete thing; it’s not a given. Haint, who’d been born with the kind of suspicion the rest of us had to work at, thought maybe the Philosopher and his staff would get rid of us one day, either by accident with their tests, or on purpose when we became a liability. Or they’d decide to sell us. The useful ones, at least.
“Not just with romance. I believe in all kinds. Like, people who are supposed to meet will meet, and it’s all predetermined whether they’ll be enemies, or hardly notice each other, if they’ll be friends. Whether friendships last until they die or just long enough to accomplish something specific.”
“Hmm.” It’s hard to keep up, but her patter is interesting. Maya’s not boring, that’s for sure. “And which kind are we?”
“Friends, definitely. Too soon to say how long it’ll last, I suppose. Que sera sera and all— Hey, what the hell?” Maya nearly slams into a man, older than the two of us by at least ten years, maybe more.
He smells like urine and sweat, like someone who hasn’t seen the inside of a shower in more than a few days. His black hair sticks out from his head in tufts and his skin is a few shades too dark for winter—like a patchy, permanent tan. Maya and I recoil in tandem, falling over each other in our scramble to move away, to turn the corner, to escape. It’s pure luck I don’t wind up seeing her number, too. The alley we turn down is barren, nothing but crunchy brown leaves tripping across the asphalt and into the grass.
“Are you Norah Jane Crespo?”
The sound of my name, rasped in an unfamiliar, demanding voice, halts my progress. Despite Maya’s hissed protest I stop, looking at the man following us. Maybe I know him, or my father sent him to check on me or something, because literally no one knows my whole name except my dad, the school, and the cops.
My pause, my squint, is all the confirmation he needs. All the time he needs, too.
A needle glints in his left hand as it slices down, jabbing me in the base of my neck.
I shriek when it plunges into my flesh, more from the surprise than the pain, although the needle isn’t small. Being injected isn’t weird for me, but it’s been a long time since anyone did it without warning.
Through the haze of shock, I see Maya swing her backpack at my assailant, but he’s not sticking around to get clobbered. He’s halfway down the alley before she gets out her first curse word, and when he disappears she squats next to me, reaching out a hand.
I recoil, keeping my fingers pressed on the affected area, and she drops her arm.
“My heavenly days, are you okay?” She pants, her face pale white with bright-red dots on the apples of her cheeks, making her look more like a doll than ever. “Who was that guy?”
“I have no idea.” My legs shake, my heart pounds, and bitter bile coats the back of my tongue. Every throb in my chest pushes the contents of the needle, unknown and foreboding, deeper into my bloodstream.
“Sweet fancy Moses I’m gonna pass out.” Despite her words, Maya’s bright eyes snap with intelligence as she recovers from the shock and starts to analyze. “He knew your name. What was that all about?”
“I don’t know.” I don’t—never seen him before in my life—but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to your normal, average, everyday high school junior. It has to have something to do with Darley, with the Cavies.
The door buzzer rings around four thirty, two hours earlier than Maya’s supposed to get here and way earlier than my father has ever come home. Not that he would ring the buzzer.
I haul myself off the bed and out of Gravity’s Rainbow, down the stairs, and peer out the peephole.
“I can see your shadow, you creeper. Open the door.”
A smile twists my lips and I yank on the knob. “You’re early.”
“Obviously. What’s wrong with your hair? It looks like a bird made a nest in it.” Maya steps over the threshold, looking as put together as she had at school except she’s in jeans and a CA T-shirt instead of a uniform.
“Not all of us are lucky enough to be as naturally adorable as you.”
“Yeah, well, don’t knock your long legs and nice chest combo. Short and cute as a button aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.”
Even though it’s my house, I trail Maya into the kitchen and find her with her head stuck in the fridge. She emerges with two apples, a jar of Nutella, and two bottles of water. We perch at the island, in the same spot where Jude and I sat the other afternoon. She slices away while I stop myself from asking why she’s here early, a little afraid that she’ll take it the wrong way, like it’s a problem or something, which it’s not.
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I’m here early?” Her keen eyes sparkle, like she can read my thoughts.
I shrug. “I’m too busy counting my lucky stars.”
“Smartass. Two reasons, actually. The first is that my father got your blood test results back, and since there’s nothing wrong with you, he said I could spill.”
“Nothing?” The relief gushing through my ears makes the words sound far away. Hot on its heels is disappointment—because we need a lead. Something that can tell us what those people know and how they changed our mutations with a single injection. “Nothing’s wrong with me?”
“I wouldn’t go that far,” she laughs. “I mean, I hardly know you and there’s totally something wrong with you.”
“You’re early. You said there were two reasons.”
“Oh, right. The rumor mill suggests that you turned down a date with a very attractive, very in-demand CA boy today, and that perhaps the reason is interest in a different very attractive, not-so-in-demand CA boy. As the first person to befriend you in reality, I feel slighted hearing this through the grapevine. What gives?”
“Geez, I guess the movies don’t lie about the speed of rumors in high school.” Chalk one up for Hollywood.
“Stop trying to blame all of your weirdness on growing up a recluse and spill.”
“Jude asked me if I wanted to hang out after the game tonight.” Blood rushes to my cheeks at the memory.
“And you said no why? I mean, he’s like my brother but it’s not like I’m blind, Norah. He’s gorgeous, has a killer body for a seventeen-year-old, and his looks aren’t even the best part about him.”
She doesn’t elaborate but she doesn’t have to. I’ve known him five days and could make a list of at least six things that make Jude attractive, and that’s after he told me he’d been my friend because his dad told him too.
As much as I still want to be angry about that, the truth of his issues at home left me with a sizable soft spot. Jude’s dealing with so much more than he lets people see.
None of which should change my desire to not get involved. Knowing what I know.
“I have plans with my father after the game. We’re going to start some old television show he likes. Or movie. Something.”
“Okay, lame, but whatever. He’s going to ask you again, you know. Are you going to say yes?”
“Who am I supposed to be interested in instead? I mean, according to wherever this information came from in the first place?” I change the subject, well aware that my new friend is too perceptive not to notice, but too confused about my feelings for Jude Greene to discuss it.
“Dane Kim, of course. You guys have been as thick as thieves the last couple of days, and Savannah heard from Jessie Brady, who heard from Annie Simmons, who sits behind you in Lit, that he sounded pretty jealous asking you about Jude.” Maya licks the Nutella off another apple slice. “She also thinks you’re a know-it-all because you answered all of the questions on the pop quiz even though you’ve only been in class a few days, FYI.”
This book combined my love of all things X-man-ish and good story telling. The characters were intriguing and well thought out. Haven’t we all wanted superpowers at one time or another, I know I have, but to have a seemingly useless power of knowing when people are going to die, I don’t think I would like that one. Gypsy is considered rather mundane in her world of exceptionally gifted peers, or Cavies as the author named them. They are secluded on what the outside world thinks is an abandoned plantation in the south until a stranger shows up and changes their world.
Ms Leigh’s plot weaving and world building is stupendous! You live through Gypsy as she learns about her new reality and you don’t want to put the book away as things start to unfold. I give this book 4 stars and I will be reading the 2nd book in the series as well.
a $20 bookstore gift card and a signed paperback of the book, plus some swag
Catch ya in the lounge...