Whether it’s ice or fire, winnow or flight, it’s no secret that YA is full of awesome abilities. But as they say, powers don’t make you a hero and they certainly don’t make you a villain. You choose what happens next—and who, exactly, you become.
In GENERATION ONE, the new novel from Pittacus Lore, war has just ended and Earth is back to relative peace. In the aftermath, though, teens across the globe are starting to develop powers. Telekinesis, teleportation, flight—you name it. The standard is for them to head off to an academy and learn how to wield these powers, but a rogue new group is forming in the shadows. A group that, unlike the legendary Garde, isn’t the best intentioned.
This book is set in the world of I AM NUMBER FOUR, but you definitely don’t have to have read those to love this. GENERATION ONE is here for *all* YA readers. Now, keep scrolling for an extended glimpse at this epic new novel!
Turner County, South Dakota
The closest thing to action Taylor Cook saw during the invasion was when a pickup truck filled with local boys rumbled by her family’s farm and asked her father if he wanted to go to war.
“We’re headed to Chicago, see if the army needs our help,” announced the driver, Dale, the manager of the local grocery store. “Kill some of these goddamn aliens.”
“Uh-huh,” Taylor’s dad, Brian, replied. “That right?”
Brian stood on their porch, his arms crossed skeptically. He and Taylor had run this farm together ever since Taylor’s mom had run off. She knew what her dad’s stance meant—it was the same as when one of the farmhands did something stupid. Her dad had an abiding patience for foolishness that Taylor didn’t exactly share.
From a few steps behind her father, Taylor assessed the contents of the pickup truck. There were three men stuffed in the cab and another four perched in the bed, all of them carrying rifles and dressed in hunting fatigues. There was something almost comical about this bunch going off to fight aliens with bright orange reflectors glued to their shoulders. This whole day—warships, invaders, superpowers—it felt like a crazy dream to Taylor. She was scared, sure, have to be insane not to be. But that didn’t stop her from smirking at her neighbors’ makeshift posse.
One of the boys in the back of the truck caught Taylor’s eye. “See something funny?” he asked. She recognized Silas, her father’s main farmhand. He was in his early twenties, dark hair slicked back by a gloss of gel, a cigarette dangling from his lips. Taylor tossed her blond hair over her shoulder and crossed her arms, unintentionally copying her dad’s posture.
“Have you seen the size of those spaceships?” she asked, meeting Silas’s gaze. “What’re your hunting rifles going to do against that? Jesus, they’ve got guys who can fly.”
“The flying guy’s on our side,” Silas responded.
“Whatever,” Taylor said. “I’m sure he’s waiting for you to come save him, Silas.”
“Better than sitting around doing nothing, anyway,” he muttered.
“Running off to get killed, that’s what you’re doing,” Taylor said. “You’ll probably fall out of the back of that truck before you even hit the state line.”
Some of the other boys in the back of the truck snickered. Silas seethed and fell silent.
“Folks on the news say we ought to stay in our homes,” Brian stated coolly, sparing Taylor a glance over his shoulder. “Go home to your families for Pete’s sake. It’s a ten-hour drive to Chicago and who-knows-what. Safer to wait this out.”
“It’s the end of the world,” Dale countered, his meaty arm hanging out the window. “We at least gotta go down swinging. Figured it wouldn’t be neighborly if we didn’t stop by and ask you to join us.”
“Well,” Brian replied with a sigh, “you asked. I’m staying right here, with my daughter. If you fellas insist on rushing off to do something dangerous, hell, you’ll be in my prayers. I hope to see you again.”
“Good knowing you, Brian,” Dale said, throwing the truck into drive.
“I won’t be in to work tomorrow, Mr. Cook,” Silas yelled out as the truck started to pull away.
“Wouldn’t expect you to be, son,” Brian replied.
Taylor and her dad stood in silence, watching the truck careen up their dirt driveway and back the way it had come. When it was out of sight, their land was peaceful again. A butterfly floated by. The hogs squealed rambunctiously in the barn. To Taylor, it didn’t look like the planet was in jeopardy.
“You don’t think it’s really the end of the world, do you?” she asked her dad.
“Don’t know, sweetheart,” Brian said calmly. Nothing shook her father, not even these so-called Mogadorians. “You want some ice cream? Might as well eat it, just in case the power goes out.”
So, Taylor and her dad spent the invasion in front of their television, glued to news reports from the major cities. When the cable feeds occasionally cut out, they played tense games of Connect Four and Scrabble. Except for feeding the animals, they let their chores go and instead ate all the junk food in the house. Taylor tried to call and message some of her friends to see how they were doing, but the cellular networks were down. The farm started to feel like an island far removed from the battles taking place all over the world.
And then, just like that, it was over. The Mogadorian leader was killed, the warships went down and the Loric were hailed as heroes. The death toll was high, especially in the major cities, but those numbers seemed almost made-up to Taylor, like the entire invasion had taken place in a different universe. No one from Turner County died. When Silas slunk back to the farm a week after the invasion, she learned that he and the morons who took off to Chicago in their pickup truck had been turned back by the National Guard at a gas station on the Minnesota border. They spent the invasion getting drunk.
Within weeks, things were pretty much back to normal, at least in Taylor’s part of the world. She saw the stories about human teenagers getting Legacies, about Mogadorians waging guerrilla warfare in Russia, about new laws that would apply to how extraterrestrials like the Loric would have to behave on Earth. None of this changed her daily grind. A war with her alarm clock, a few quick chores, school, dinner, homework, repeat.
At school, they called an assembly—all 158 students at the high school packed into the gymnasium—to talk about Earth Garde. It was a law now that anyone who developed Legacies needed to report them to their local authorities. Taylor had read about the Academy they were constructing for Human Garde in California. She didn’t understand why the UN had to build that in America, or why the president and other politicians had pushed so hard to host. Anyone with Legacies was getting pulled out of their regular schools and sent there.
The guidance counselor asked if any of the students had experienced “visions” or “out-of-body experiences” because apparently those were things now. Taylor couldn’t believe that the teachers were talking about this stuff so casually, like they’d just been plucked out of a comic book.
In the hall after, some boys joked about their “night visions” and Taylor groaned and rolled her eyes, secretly feeling relief that everyone at her school was normal.
“We’re taking a road trip to Chicago this weekend to see the crashed warship,” Taylor’s friend Claire told her on the bus one day, a few months after the invasion.
“What?” Taylor replied. “Really?”
“I saw some girls on Insta, they got so close, that uglyass ship is like right behind them. So many likes,” Claire continued. “Maybe if I get close enough, I’ll score some Legacies.”
Taylor rolled her eyes. “I don’t think that’s how it works.”
“They’re alien powers! No one knows how it works!” Claire laughed and nudged Taylor’s ribs. “Come on. Like you don’t want telekinesis or whatever.”
“And get sent away to their weird alien Academy?” Taylor snorted. “No thanks.”
“You’d probably get to meet John Smith,” Claire replied. “He’s so hot.”
“Really? He always looks like he’s about to cry in all those pictures.”
“He’s soulful! You’re such a downer,” Claire said without any malice. “So, do you want to come with us this weekend or what?”
Taylor didn’t know how to explain to Claire that she liked their peaceful bubble of Turner County without sounding lame. So she lied about having too much work due and how her dad needed her help. She didn’t need an up-close-and-personal view of an alien warship. Too real.
“It’s like, everyone’s already treating what happened like it’s totally normal,” Taylor said to her dad over dinner that night.
Her dad shrugged. “That’s just people, hon. Given enough time, they can adjust to damn near anything. A few hundred years ago, if you’d shown folks an airplane or a cell phone, their heads would’ve exploded. I thought getting wireless internet out here on the farm would be the most awe-inspiring thing I saw in my lifetime. Pretty cool to be wrong.”
“Wasn’t so cool for all the people who died,” Taylor said, pushing some corn around on her plate.
“No, that’s true,” her dad replied gently. “It can be a lot to wrap your head around. But we’re safe here. You know that, right? Ain’t nobody bothering little old Turner County.”
Her dad was right. Taylor was comforted that Turner County remained pretty much unchanged in this brave new world. The articles she read about teenagers with Legacies speculated that everyone who was going to get the enhanced abilities had already gotten them—that it was a side effect of the war triggered by the Loric and that now it would stop.
They were wrong about that.
And eventually, her dad would be proved wrong about Turner County.
Arnhem Land, Australia
The Cessna came in low over the tiny aboriginal village, sought the dusty and bounced through a landing on the hard-packed ground. Nearby, a group of the villagers huddled around a fire and prepared a freshly killed sea turtle for dinner. They stuffed the spear-holes in the animal’s shell with twigs and then buried it beneath coals so that the meat inside the shell would cook. They paused in their work to exchange glances as the plane’s engine rumbled to a stop. It was dusk and they weren’t expecting visitors.
For this village, tiny was perhaps an understatement. Only fifty aboriginals lived here, in the train-car-shaped houses just a stone’s throw from the Timor Sea. The walls were made of corrugated steel, these all painted vividly with images of stingrays and turtles and colorful dots and stripes. Dogs that straddled the line between stray and domesticated weaved in and out of the mango and banana trees, barking at the plane.
Jedda, the village’s matriarch, eyed the plane warily from the steps of her home, smoking a pipe. She was in possession of the village’s lone satellite phone.
Even if she had called for help right then, it would not have arrived in time.
From inside the airplane, Einar watched the villagers shuffle about. He could tell they were uneasy. He was nervous, too. This was his first operation on behalf of the Foundation and he badly wanted it to go smoothly. Needed it to go smoothly. He wondered if this little village even knew that there had been an alien invasion, if they knew how much the world had changed in the last four months. He could see the glow of a TV set inside one of the houses. They weren’t entirely cut off from society out here in the bush.
Still, he wondered if they even understood what they possessed.
Einar’s gaze drifted away from the villagers and towards a tree where the fat leaves seemed to shift oddly on the wind. Not leaves. Those were bats. Dozens of them hanging upside down from the thinning branches.
He suppressed a shudder. It wouldn’t be good to show weakness. Not considering his present company.
Sandwiched into the small plane with Einar were six very nasty-looking men. Mercenaries. All of them dressed in black body armor and carrying excessively large machine guns. Their leader was a Norwegian named Jarl, red-bearded with bulging neck muscles, a hooked scar that ran from his eye to the corner of his mouth. He and his men hadn’t been much for conversation during the journey. The Blackstone Group weren’t used to having a seventeen-year-old in charge of them. Einar wondered how much the Foundation was paying them.
Einar stood and delicately rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. He looked at Jarl. The men knew their orders; he didn’t need to go over them again. Instead, he pointed at the serrated combat knife strapped to Jarl’s belt.
“May I?” Einar asked.
Jarl handed him the knife handle first. Without hesitating, Einar gritted his teeth and dragged the blade across the inside of his forearm.
The villagers were taken by surprise when Einar stumbled off the plane. A young, pale-skinned boy, dressed in sharply pressed chinos and a white dress shirt, carrying a stylish attaché case, his brown hair parted from the side. Some rich gubba whose plane lost his way? An intern from one of the mining companies that were always trying to buy up their land?
Bleeding from a cut on his arm. Deep and getting all over his shirt. The guy held up his arm.
“Hello? I’m sorry. Can someone help?”
Only half the aboriginals spoke English, but they all got the gist. They exchanged looks. One of the boys tending to the turtle—no more than fourteen, dark-skinned, with a mane of curly black hair—started immediately toward Einar. Jedda barked something at him in Yolngu Matha, a warning, but the boy waved her off.
He couldn’t explain it, but he felt an overwhelming urge to help this injured white boy. He felt like the stranger was an old friend.
“I’m Einar,” he said. “Do you speak English?”
“Yeah. I’m Bunji,” the aboriginal replied. He took Einar’s arm in his hands, his touch gentle despite the calluses on his palms. “What ya doing way out here?”
“Lost,” Einar replied. “Lost and hurt, as you can see.”
“Not for long,” Bunji declared, unable to keep the pride and excitement out of his voice.
Some of the other villagers had edged closer. They always wanted to watch Bunji use his gift, which he’d first discovered when his older brother had accidentally cut his hand on a fishing line.
Bunji pressed his hand onto Einar’s arm, not mindful of the blood. He squinted, and Einar felt a wave of warm energy wash into him. The sensation that followed was like a pleasant tickle.
When Bunji took his hand away, Einar’s cut was gone. His arm was healed.
“Remarkable,” Einar said, smiling at Bunji. “My friend, can you do this?”
Einar held up his attaché, then let it go. The case floated there, suspended in midair by telekinesis. Some of the villagers gasped. Bunji grinned and laughed.
“You! You’re like me!” The aboriginal reached out with his own telekinesis and levitated a handful of nearby stones. He floated them around the two of them like tiny meteors orbiting a planet.
“Indeed,” Einar said, and opened his floating attaché, produced a tranquilizer gun and shot Bunji in the neck. All the rocks he was levitating fell out of the air.
By the time the stones hit the ground, Jarl and his men were stepping off the plane, their guns clicking as the safeties were flicked off. They took care of the villagers while Einar carried Bunji to the plane.
The Foundation would be pleased.
Turner County, South Dakota
Taylor discovered that she was one of them on the Wednesday morning when she reached for her buzzing alarm clock and accidentally sent the thing flying across her bedroom. The clock smashed against the wall, made a squawking sound like a dying goose and was silent. Taylor was 99 percent sure she hadn’t laid a finger on it.
“Okay, get a grip,” she told herself. “You were still half dreaming. It was an accident. You’re freaking out over nothing.”
Taylor held her hand out toward the broken alarm clock, gasping when it levitated and floated back to her.
“Dad!” she shouted.
Brian didn’t hear her. He was already out of the house. Taylor threw open her bedroom window and gazed out over their small farm. The barn doors were open, her dad probably in there feeding the hogs.
A dented pickup truck made its way up their dirt driveway. That would be Silas. He got out of his truck, hair slicked back as usual, a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his flannel shirt, like a dingy version of some old movie star. Over the last few months, ever since she spoke up to him during the invasion, he’d started looking at Taylor in a new way, a creepy way. He always made a point of telling her how much she’d grown. He saw her watching and waved.
Taylor shut her window. Took a step back.
“This isn’t happening,” she told herself.
It’d been almost a year since the world got crazy. Things had been normal here, though, just like Taylor had hoped. She’d even gotten comfortable with the idea of aliens and superpowers in the world. But now . . .
“I . . . I can’t be one of them.”
But she was. Taylor realized she hadn’t used her hands to shut her window just then. She’d used her mind. She went back to the glass, peering out, praying that Silas hadn’t noticed anything. Taylor watched him saunter into the barn like nothing had happened and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Okay. Okay.” She looked down at her hands. They were shaking. “Nothing has to change.”
Taylor decided then and there that she would act like nothing happened. She got ready for school. Wiping steam off the bathroom mirror after her shower, Taylor studied her reflection. Blue eyes, wavy blond hair, a small nose and rounded cheeks. She didn’t look any different than yesterday. Granted, every day she looked more and more like her mother, a fact that annoyed Taylor. But there was no physical manifestation of her telekinesis.
Telekinesis. A year ago that word was strictly in the vocabulary of comic book readers and science fiction fans. Now it was everywhere. The telltale sign of a Garde developing their powers. There were PSAs on TV about what to do if you spotted someone using telekinesis. Taylor never thought she’d be one of them.
She would hide. There were fewer than ten thousand people in all of Turner County. Those government people she saw on TV would never come to South Dakota looking for one of their so-called Human Garde. Her dad had said no one would bother with their little town.
“Going to school!” she yelled into the barn as she half jogged down the driveway to where the bus waited. Usually, she’d never leave without giving her dad a hug and a kiss, but Silas was there, lingering in the barn’s doorway waiting to take the tractor out, and even though Taylor knew he was just eyeballing her in his usual pervy way, she felt extra exposed that morning and couldn’t bring herself to get too close.
Taylor zoned out in her history class, daydreaming about the fiery images she’d seen of the invasion, imagining herself there, clumsily floating around a broken alarm clock while pale aliens shot at her with lasers. She got scolded, her classmates giggling after the teacher called her name five times. At lunch, her friends told her that she seemed distracted and Taylor brushed them off, making an excuse about not sleeping well. When the kid in front of her grabbed the last peach iced tea from the drink cooler, Taylor nearly used her telekinesis to snatch the bottle out from under his fingers, then immediately felt ashamed. Whenever she needed to reach for something, she could feel the telekinesis urging her to use it. Ignoring the ability was like not scratching an itch. It frightened her how much the telekinesis already felt like a part of her, an instinct she had to fight against.
“It’ll get easier,” she promised herself in the bathroom mirror as she washed her hands. Then she floated a paper towel to herself from the dispenser, screamed in frustration and stomped her feet.
Sooner or later, she would screw up and someone would see her. Unless she learned how to bury this power deep inside her, make like it never existed. But already that felt like keeping an arm tied behind her back.
On the bus ride home from school, Taylor stared mutely out the window while Claire rambled on about some boy. She watched Turner County glide by and then imagined the bus carrying her onwards, all the way to California and that bizarre Academy for Human Garde. If they caught her, that’s where she’d end up.
She had promised herself that she would never leave Turner County.
Inevitably, this led Taylor to remembering the last time she’d seen her mom. She was nine years old and they were at the bus station in Ashburn. Her mom wore jeans that Taylor thought were too tight, a tied-off plaid shirt and a red bandanna in her hair. All the rest of her clothes were stuffed into the backpack she carried on her shoulder.
“You’re coming back, right? This isn’t forever,” Taylor had said to her mom.
“Oh, honey,” Taylor’s mom said, and touched her gently on the cheek. “You can come visit me whenever you want. Minneapolis is only a couple of hours away.”
Young Taylor glanced over her shoulder to where her father sat in their truck, watching them, a baseball cap pulled low to hide his eyes. She looked back to her mom.
“But how will I get there?” she asked. “I’m nine.”
Her mom smiled. “You’ll see one day, Tay. A person can’t stay in Turner County forever. Even if it hurts now, you’ll come to understand.”
Minneapolis was just Taylor’s mom’s first stop in her flight from South Dakota. She kept going farther and farther east—after Minneapolis was Madison, then Chicago, and the last Taylor heard it was Philadelphia. Taylor never ended up visiting any of those places. Her mom promised that one day Taylor would understand, but she didn’t want that day to come because it’d mean she was like her mother. She’d take over the farm from her daddy, just like he’d taken it over from his daddy.
Her dad made patty melts and French fries for dinner that night. She got the feeling that he had noticed her hasty departure that morning and thought maybe she was mad at him, so he cooked one of her favorite meals. Taylor hugged him while he was frying up the burgers.
“There’s my girl,” her dad said, sounding relieved.
Over dinner, Taylor studied her dad. He was a handsome man with his half day’s growth of beard, brown hair graying at the temples, lean and tan from all the work around the farm. He’d never remarried after Taylor’s mom, not even a girlfriend as far as Taylor knew, although the single ladies in the county still sent over cookies and pies on a regular basis. She got teary-eyed while picturing a scenario where she’d have to say good-bye and leave him here all by himself.
Brian caught Taylor looking at him and rubbed a hand across his cheek. “What is it? I got slop on me?”
She laughed. “No, you’re all good, Daddy.”
“If you say so.” He kept looking at her. “What about you? You all good?”
She nodded. “Yeah. I’m fine. Just tired.”
Then, Taylor reached for the salt and the little glass shaker slid across the table right into her waiting palm.
They looked at each other.
After a long silence, Brian said, “Well, I’ll be damned.” Finally, Taylor started to cry, big heaving panicked sobs, and her dad came around the table to hold her. “Come on, now. I always knew you were a special one and this just proves it.”
“I don’t—I don’t want to be special!” Taylor replied through her tears. “I like our life here! I don’t want anything else!”
Taylor’s dad rubbed her back. “Come on, now,” he said quietly. “I saw them say on TV that the ones who get powers are the best among us. That they’re destined to be important people.”
“I saw that same show, Dad! The one lady said all that flowery bullcrap, and the other guy said it was all random. An alien lottery. And I didn’t want to win!”
“Well,” her dad said calmly, “I choose to believe the bit about destiny.”
“Are you not listening? I don’t want a great destiny. I like it here. With you. I don’t want to go to their dumb Academy.”
“Then you won’t have to.” Her dad nodded once, like he’d just come to this decision. “You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.”
“But it’s a law now. You’re supposed to . . .” She swallowed. “You’re supposed to turn me in.”
Brian shook his head. “Not in a million years.”
“But someone else could see,” Taylor said. “You don’t know how hard it was today at school to control myself. All day, I wanted to use it. I’ll slip up.”
Brian considered this for a moment, studying Taylor, who was studying her hands like they’d suddenly become foreign.
“Just us and the hogs out here, most times,” her dad said slowly. “Maybe if you practice doing your alien-thing around the house, it’ll be easier when you’re out in public.”
“Ugh. Please don’t call it my alien-thing.”
“Sorry. Your Legacy.”
Taylor frowned. All day, she’d been thinking about ways to suppress her telekinesis. Maybe her dad was onto something. Maybe instead of ignoring her power, she could exhaust it in the moments when it was safe to use, get it out of her system.
“It’s worth a try,” she admitted.
“Besides,” her dad said, picking up the saltshaker and wiggling it through the air, “I think it’s pretty cool to watch.”
For a month, Brian’s plan worked. Taylor used her telekinesis around the house—she floated her homework books out in front of her while she studied, poured herself glasses of water in the kitchen while standing in the living room and spooned sugar into her dad’s morning coffee while flipping eggs. Her control began to get more precise, the tasks she could complete more complicated, the objects she could lift heavier. And while it felt like a part of her was asleep whenever she went to school or when Silas and the other farmhands were around, Taylor found it easier and easier to keep from slipping up in public.
But then came the day of the accident.
Omg… are you as excited for this world to come together as we are? Let us know what you think about GENERATION ONE in the comments below!
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