Title: The Clone Codes
Author: The McKissacks (Patricia, Fred, Pat)
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Themes: Freedom, Social Justice, Slavery
Age Range: 5th-8th Grade
Summary: from Goodreads
In the year 2170 an underground abolitionist movement fights for the freedom of cyborgs and clones, who are treated no better than slaves
The Cyborg Wars are over and Earth has peacefully prospered for more than one hundred years. Yet sometimes history must repeat itself until humanity learns from its mistakes. In the year 2170, despite technological and political advances, cyborgs and clones are treated no better than slaves, and an underground abolitionist movement is fighting for freedom. Thirteen-year-old Leanna's entire life is thrown into chaos when The World Federation of Nations discovers her mom is part of the radical Liberty Bell Movement.
The Clone Codes is an interesting look at the concept of slavery in an updated setting. We teach a lot about slavery and the Civil war in American schools, but I suspect that the farther we get from that event, and from the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, the less accessible the information about them becomes to the students of today. We are no longer teaching about something that happened in their parents' active memory-we are becoming a generation removed from the marches and sit-ins and boycotts. Using The Clone Codes in cooperation with a unit on slavery or the Civil Rights Movement could go a long way towards helping the "tween" set gain a clearer picture of the issues involved.
The book itself is well, if sparsely, written. The McKissacks apparently took their writing teachers' lessons about clarity and brevity to heart. But that makes it an easy read for readers as young as fifth grade, and maybe even skilled fourth grade readers could get something from the story. There are a few things thrown in that would require some advance preparation or explanation-the Patriot Act, the workings of the Supreme Court-but nothing that can't be easily managed in a classroom setting. And the book is part of a series, which means that their may be reluctant readers who get hooked by the book in class, and then go on to read the remainder of the story. The second and third books in the series are already out, called The Clone Wars #2: Cyborg and The Clone Wars #3: Visitor respectively. I would say these are a good addition to a middle school classroom library, and while the main character is female I feel like the story itself would be just as appealing to younger male readers, even the reluctant ones.