Josephine has a gift, and a problem, and more aliases than a seventeen-year-old needs. In Calculated, Nova McBee mixes a certain ancient record with a twenty-first century milieu. Perched on the edge of science fiction, the story pushes familiar notions—economic depression, the prodigy, the ability of math to quantify and predict reality—beyond their usual limits. The heroine’s American perspective, and the Chinese context in which most events play out, make challenging equations with tense resolutions. Faith elements prove light but useful, glimpsed in themes that gifts have purpose and human lives have meaning. Calculated is a striking novel whose vivid characters and world are brought home by skillful writing.
Best for: Fans of young-adult sci-fi and dystopia.
Discern: A man makes sexual advances to a fifteen-year-old girl, plot often explores sex trafficking but is limited to the margins, references to sexual abuse and adultery, men are physically abusive to young girls, some violence and fighting, mild language.