Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated when the time comes for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. High-status trueborns and working-class lowborns, born naturally of a mother, are free to choose their own lives. But GENs are gestated in a tank, sequestered in slums, and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds a host of secrets and surprises—not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul's great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night. With the help of an intriguing lowborn boy, Mishalla begins to suspect that something horrible is happening to them.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan with their new friends to save the children who are disappearing. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, one that may reveal secrets no one is ready to face.
Once a Chadi sector gen girl terrified of her first Assignment, Kayla is now a member of the Kinship,
a secret organization of GENs, lowborns, and trueborns. Kayla longs to be truly free, but other priorities have gotten in the
way. A paradoxically deadly new virus has swept through GEN sectors—a disease only GENs catch. And GEN warrens and warehouses are being bombed,
with only a scrawled clue: F.H.E. Freedom, Humanity, Equality. With the virus and the bombings decimating the GEN
community, freedom and love are put on the back burner as Kayla and her friends find a way to stop the killing...before it's too late.
Kayla is a GEN—a genetically engineered nonhuman—in a world torn apart by castes separating GENs from "real" humans. In the wake of a devastating bomb blast, Kayla finds herself at the headquarters of the organization that planted the bomb—and many others like it in GEN food warehouses and homes. Her biological mother tells her that Devak is dead and that Kayla must join their terrorist group, which is ramping up for something big. Now Kayla must pretend to embrace this new role in an underground compound full of paranoia as she plots a way to escape and save her friends.
Meanwhile, Devak has emerged from his healing in a gen-tank, only to be told that Kayla is dead and his family has fallen from grace. Can he overcome his grief enough to notice the clues that point to Kayla?