Maria Ingrande Mora
Published March 9, 2021
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads
About Fragile Remedy
Sixteen-year-old Nate is a GEM—Genetically Engineered Medi-tissue created by the scientists of Gathos City as a cure for the elite from the fatal lung rot ravaging the population. As a child, he was smuggled out of the laboratory where he was held captive and into the Withers—a quarantined, lawless region. Nate manages to survive by using his engineering skills to become a Tinker, fixing broken tech in exchange for food or a safe place to sleep. When he meets Reed, a kind and fiercely protective boy that makes his heart race, and his misfit gang of scavengers, Nate finds the family he’s always longed for—even if he can’t risk telling them what he is.
But Gathos created a genetic failsafe in their GEMs—a flaw that causes their health to rapidly deteriorate as they age unless they are regularly dosed with medication controlled by Gathos City. As Nate’s health declines, his hard-won freedom is put in jeopardy. Violence erupts across the Withers, his illegal supply of medicine is cut off, and a vicious attack on Reed threatens to expose his secret. With time running out, Nate is left with only two options: work for a shadowy terrorist organization that has the means to keep him alive, or stay — and die — with the boy he loves.
So much happens in this one story that I’m having a hard time knowing where to begin.
I loved Nate’s character. He’s young and inexperienced and fierce and hopeful and a little bit self-loathing. I also loved the characters in the gang. Reese is loyal and true, always sticking to his values. Pixel is adorable. And the rest of the girls made it feel like such a little family.
Nate also has a relationship with Alden, a curio shop owner, drug addict, and man with connections. And Remedy, which Nate needs to live. It’s a complex relationship. I feel like I’d need a psychology degree to pick it apart. There are some really unhealthy elements to it, and yet somewhere in there is a protectiveness and loyalty and maybe even friendship? But it’s pretty enmeshed with the other elements, too.
The story itself moves forward pretty quickly. In Nate’s dystopian city, it’s dangerous to stay still too long, and that sense came through in the plot. Though it’s not a story about addiction, the story explores some of the damage that addiction causes, not just to the individual with the problem, but to the family and community. It also explores darker ideas, like using drugs to create dependent people and maintain control.
It’s been a while since I read a good dystopian story, and FRAGILE REMEDY definitely hit a lot of good notes for me. It made me uncomfortable sometimes, but usually in a way that made me think more deeply about the issues at hand. I think readers who enjoy books that explore addiction or dystopian stories will want to add this one to their shelves.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Nate and several other characters are gay. One member of the gang is transgender.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used maybe once or twice per chapter on average.
Kissing between two boys. References to arousal.
Some people worship the Old Gods. Others have no spiritual beliefs.
Scenes show kidnapping and a mob attacking someone. Other scenes show the aftermath of characters injured by others.
One character is a drug addict. Others find the properties of GEM blood addicting.
Note: I received a free copy of FRAGILE REMEDY in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. All opinions are my own.