Check Out: X&Y by Rebecca Finlayson

X&Y by Rebecca Finlayson
Age: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian
Buy it: Amazon
“With remarkable intelligence, stunning beauty, and – as the daughter of the head of the Triad, Society’s top three Human Designers – immeasurable wealth, Olivia Adonane’s future is assured. Wanting the same for her best friend Lily, whose world is far beneath her own, Olivia doesn’t know that she could kill her friend with her kindness. With her humble background, university is not something to which one such as Lily Brown is allowed to aspire.
By designing all humans in the womb, Society – formerly known as Great Britain – tells its citizens it is building Utopia, though Olivia discovers that this is far from the truth. After watching Lily die in a secret chamber below the Triad Building in London, thanks to a law she didn’t even think was possible to break, the glass of Olivia’s perfect world is shattered.
From here on out, she has a choice. Will she continue on her pre-designed path, following in her father’s footsteps through medical school to become Society’s most powerful Human Designer? Or will she seek to rebel against the System, attempting to expose and overthrow the seemingly-invincible regime so that her fellow citizens can be truly free?”
Genetic engineering is set to be one of the most controversial topics of our time. Our world has the technology to do amazing things and genetic engineering, at least from a technical point of view, is one of them for sure. But just because it’s amazing, does it mean it is right?

I got the inspiration for “X&Y” a couple of years ago when I was supporting a Religious Studies lesson (I work as Teaching Assistant in a secondary school – 11-18 year olds). We were talking about genetic engineering and the ethics of it, particularly when it came to humans. The technology is there to begin eliminating fatal hereditary diseases from humans, which on the face of it is great. But where does it stop?

I imagined a society in which the process didn’t stop, and the whole country became subject to a regime of genetic engineering in order to reach Utopia. While on the face of it, particularly from the main character, Olivia’s, point of view, there is dark stuff going on behind the scenes. I found it fascinating to write from the point of view of someone who has everything and is faced with the choice to risk it all for what she believes in.

I hope that readers can relate to the things that my characters go through. After all, the issue of identity, in whatever context we face it, is something we all struggle with. I hope that readers enjoy the story and use it to question what is going on in our world today.

Below is the first chapter of X&Y. You can find the book, with a larger free sample, in the Amazon Kindle store.


Thunder rumbles in the early hours of this morning and when I wake I think of Lily and what we’re going to do today. We’re meeting before school so we can post off our university applications together. To anyone who does not know who we are it seems such a little thing, but in this day and age it is not. My Ambition means I’m guaranteed a place at a prestigious institution, but Lily’s venture is a little more uncertain. Her portfolio, given to her parents when she was still in her mother’s womb, states that her Ambition is to be a waitress, which I’ve always thought was some kind of mix-up, as I’ve never thought she was right for the Service Industry. Very clumsy, and perpetually distracted by “higher things”, as she calls them, her different Preparation Experiences in cafes and restaurants have always ended spectacularly badly, though I will give her current boss come credit; she is unremittingly patient with her. 
Lily is also extraordinarily clever, which is why I persuaded her to fill in a university application in the first place. Strange, I think, considering her family’s Ambitions, that her Tag gave her the chance to advance as much as she has. I know that Lily thinks this is too risky, bordering on dangerous – especially when the admissions boards find out about her humble family background. What harm is there in trying, though? Despite her reluctance, I know when she gets offered an opportunity to study Philosophy and Poetry she’ll be ecstatic and all the fear will have been worth it.
My own Ambition is very different. I will be following my father down the Designer route. First, six years of medical school followed by three more years of theoretical and practical study at the School of Human Design. I will learn how to create Tags with which to start unborn babies off on their uniquely selected paths, learn to further the research that reduces – and, hopefully, eventually eradicates – glitches in the System, and such like. My father is the most renowned Designer in the country, the head of the Triad – the Triad comprises of the country’s top three Designers – and one day I will take his place. It is a huge responsibility, but it is one for which I have specifically been Designed. I have no need to doubt myself. 
“Good morning, father,” I chime, kissing him on the cheek as I bounce down to the dining room for breakfast, schoolbag and big brown envelope at the ready. I fling them down untidily on a chair and fix myself some cereal. “Where’s mother?”
“Still in bed; she’s a little under the weather this morning. Not to worry though, she’ll be up and about in no time,” he says while sipping his coffee and reading the newspaper.
“What is the news like this morning?” 
“Calm, as usual,” he smiles, and my curious doubts are quieted. Why do I harbour them? Our Society is near perfect. While other nations are constantly embroiled in bitter civil struggles, slowly destroying themselves from within, our country enjoys peace and prosperity. The “Utopia”, that the old writers dreamt of, is being achieved at last. I just wonder what the other countries are doing so wrong. Father soon breaks me out of my reverie. 
“Is that what I think it is?” he asks, indicating the brown envelope. 
“Yes,” I say proudly. “I wonder which school will want me.”
“All of them, I expect. Look how strong your application is, after all.” 
“It doesn’t hurt that I have your name on it, though,” I say slyly. 
“True,” he says, winking at me. “But if your Ambition was not to follow in my footsteps, they would turn you down as any other school would turn down an applicant whose Ambition did not meet with their requirements.”
“There’s something I wanted to ask you related to that,” I say. “You know Lily, my best friend?” 
“Yes?” His tone is careful. He has never met Lily and there’s something about his wariness whenever I mention her that makes me uneasy, like he doesn’t think we should be friends. 
“Do you know if her Tag and her Ambition portfolio got mixed up somehow before she was born?” I ask.
“I don’t know; I wasn’t assigned to her case. You would have to find that out from her hospital. Why?”
“Well, her Ambition is for her to be a waitress, but she’s not suited to that at all.”
“Waitressing is a perfectly good and sturdy profession,” my father says, his tone reprimanding. 
“I know; I’m not being high and mighty. It’s just that, Lily doesn’t seem to enjoy it at all. She seems much more interested in pursuing Academia after Mandatory Education is over. I just wondered whether her original Portfolio was along the lines of some kind of Higher Educator, and the folder got mixed up in the hospital.”
“That’s impossible,” he says, though his dark eyebrows narrow a little over his thick-rimmed black glasses. “Are you sure this isn’t just some Secondary Interest that she is feeling quite strongly about at the moment?”
“I don’t think so,” I say, although my instincts tell me to shut up. “Even in between her work breaks she’s always reading a book of some poet or another. She excels at school – really, she would do much better at my school – and it crushes me to think she can’t do what she really wants.”
“She wants to be a waitress,” my father says quietly. “If her portfolio says so, then that is what her Tag has prepared her for, and that is what she will do. I think you might be seeing more in this situation than there is.”
“But-” I start to argue, about to reveal that I’ve helped her fill in university application, but something in his voice tells me that would be dangerous. His mobile phone rings and he frowns when he sees who is calling him. 
“What is it?” he snaps into the phone. His eyes widen as the speaker on the other end rapidly relays information, though I can’t hear what he is saying. “I’ll come immediately.” He clicks off, his expression a mixture of annoyance and something else. Dismay?
“We’ll talk about this later,” he says quickly as he dons his suit jacket and picks up his briefcase and I assume he means our earlier conversation. “I have to go. I’ll see you for dinner. We’re going out to The Glade tonight.” He kisses my head and leaves. Soon I hear the car rev up and speed away, gravel flying everywhere.
“Sure,” I murmur, wondering what on earth that was about.

Rebecca Finlayson was born in the north of England - specifically Blackburn, Lancashire – but actually spent most of her childhood in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (fans of Harry Potter will recognise that name!). Inspired by reading a children’s version of “The Odyssey” 20+ times while growing up, she decided to study Classical Civilisation at Warwick University and took a job as a Teaching Assistant upon graduating. After two years she decided to take a year out in order to do some charity work but, more significantly, pursue some writing projects that had been nagging at her for some time. The first of these projects to be completed, a Young Adult Dystopian novel entitled “X&Y” is now on sale on Amazon Kindle. The second – a fantasy novel entitled “The Secrets of Nethiaria: The Magician’s Book” will be out in Spring 2014.

You can find Rebecca Finlayson at http://www.rebeccafinlaysonbooks.blogspot.co.uk or on twitter: @finlaysonauthor.


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