The Lying Planet by Carol Riggs
(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Entangled Teen on September 20th 2016
Genres: Death & Dying, Family, Science Fiction, Suspense, Young Adult, Young Adult Fiction
Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips.
Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late.
Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.
When I saw this cover, I knew I had to read this book. The sense of hopelessness, the undercurrent of mystery, and definite sci-fi hues sucked me in, and I hoped the story inside was just as wonderful.
Jay Lawton had always been the good guy. He followed all the rules of Sanctuary, a small town on the planet Liberty that was safe from the effects of the deadly dust in the outer regions, and wanted the highest score possible when his testing day arrived. I had to get used to Jay’s voice. At first he kind of irritated me, but later I sort of liked him. The “mom and dad are always right” thing didn’t quite fit the mold of not just any teenager but any person on the planet. When he started to think for himself, I started to like him more.
The testing reminded me of The Giver. Each teenager at the age of eighteen, unlike twelve in The Giver, was tested and put somewhere. In The Lying Planet somewhere equated to banishment or New Paradise. No one had been outside of Sanctuary, unless it was to one of the other two safe places on Liberty, so New Paradise was what most wanted. I liked the mystery behind the testing and what it meant for the citizens, but I would have liked a little more of it. Yes, it played a central role in the plot development, but I felt it needed to hold up some more in the story. The Machine seemed integral to the story at the beginning but kind of faded into the background as the story continued. However, the story takes place over a two-week period. Riggs packed a lot of story in two weeks, almost a whirlwind of events, which was one testing to the next, so I understood why I didn’t read more about it.
There was some relationship stuff that took place in the novel. It can’t be called romance, per se, but there was some attraction mentioned. Kissing scenes didn’t really fit in this story, so the one or so that were placed toward the end were the only ones that truly had a place. If you’re looking for a sci-fi romance this is not the book to turn to. If you’re looking for sci-fi with classic undertones, such as Octavia Butler’s “Bloodchild” or Fredrick Brown’s “Arena,” this is right up your alley.
While “Bloodchild” and “Arena” are more blood and gore, doom and darkness—though The Lying Planet does have dome definite doom and gloom—The Lying Planet would suit readers that love sci-fi but don’t want the uber descriptive feasting of males or the killing of entire species. Hey, I enjoyed those stories, but they’re not for everyone. In other words, The Lying Planet is a clean read. Riggs garnered a set of colloquialism for the citizens of Liberty instead of some four-letter words. I found it creative, and it added to the story in a unique way.
The Lying Planet will satisfy your sci-fi urges and remind you of some of the classics. It has mystery, suspense, and a plot twist that will make your jaw drop.
Inside the enormous building, I walk by rows of empty bleachers. My footsteps slow as I near an imposing apparatus.
A full three meters tall, the Machine’s silver arms flare out from a single seat, making it look like a predatory mutant octopus. A plexifiber dome encloses and protects it. A biolock secures access to the dome. It looks almost alive, as though it’s waiting, sleeping…conserving energy until it’s time for the graduation ceremony.
Shivers crawl down my arms. Eerie as it is, the Testing Machine is my ticket out of Sanctuary. It’ll show what I’ve contributed to the zone and prove I’m worthy to join the colony of Promise City. Thanks to the uncanny way it judges us—and the Board rewarding high scores and threatening banishment for low ones—productivity has skyrocketed. The Machine boggles my mind. For the last six years it’s been here, ever since kids were eighteen and old enough for the Testing to start up, it has held the power of life and death on this planet.
A rowdy whoop echoes around the stadium, making me flinch.
“Hey, Lawton, ogling the beast?” a deep voice calls. “Making sure it’s recording every single one of your dedicated community services?”
I turn to find one of my friends wearing a helioball cap walking into the building. Nash Redmond. A ludmium-powered pruning device and a maintenance bucket dangle from his hands. Two of our other friends are on landscaping duty with him, carrying tools and wearing gloves. Leonard walks beside him, his lanky form mimicking Nash’s casual walk, but Peyton copies no one. Her petite, tomboyish body moves toward me with purpose. Her uniform is mismatched, an orange shirt paired with dark blue pants.
“Hey, Nash,” I say. After what we’ve seen at the education compound, I don’t know how he can act normal, almost cheerful. I give Peyton a half smile. “Why are you still hanging out with these guys?”
She grins, her slightly crooked teeth crisp and white against her naturally brown skin. “They’re insane. I adore insanity.”
“I hope you don’t regret it.” I toss a meaningful glance at the Machine, and it’s not reassuring that she shrugs. She’s changed over the seasons, gone renegade. Ever since that one Harvest Equinox party two years ago, when we stopped hanging out. Now she skips education sessions with Nash and Leonard and works at community service only long enough to log in her required hours. I doubt she’ll flunk and get banished, but she won’t score very high. Apparently the Machine doesn’t spur everyone into being more productive.
“Peyton doesn’t care, so why should you?” Nash asks me. “All we need to do is pass the Testing, not reach superhero-level scores. Take me, for instance. Do I look worried? No, because tomorrow at my ceremony, I’m gonna pass.”
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