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Cover image for Nova
New York : DAW Books, Inc., [2015]
Physical Description:
310 pages ; 24 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
no. 1692.
Lia, a genetically-engineered human bomb, is sent to the New Sol Space Station in order to destroy it, but when her internal clock malfunctions, she must find a way to diffuse the bomb within her and attempt to live a normal, human life.


Call Number

On Order




The clock activates so suddenly in my mind, my head involuntarily jerks a bit to the side. The fog vanishes, dissipated in an instant as though it never was. Memories come slotting into place, their edges sharp enough to leave furrows, and suddenly I know. I know exactly who I am.

My name is Lia Johansen, and I was named for a prisoner of war. She lived in the Tiersten Internment Colony for two years, and when they negotiated the return of the prisoners, I was given her memories and sent back in her place.

And I am a genetically engineered human bomb.

Lia Johansen was created for only one purpose: to slip onto the strategically placed New Sol Space Station and explode.

But her mission goes to hell when her clock malfunctions, freezing her countdown with just two minutes to go. With no Plan B, no memories of her past, and no identity besides a name stolen from a dead POW, Lia has no idea what to do next. Her life gets even more complicated when she meets Michael Sorenson, the real Lia's childhood best friend.

Drawn to Michael and his family against her better judgment, Lia starts learning what it means to live and love, and to be human. It is only when her countdown clock begins sporadically losing time that she realizes even duds can still blow up .

If she wants any chance at a future, she must find a way to unlock the secrets of her past and stop her clock. But as Lia digs into her origins, she begins to suspect there's far more to her mission and to this war, than meets the eye. With the fate of not just a space station but an entire empire hanging in the balance, Lia races to find the truth before her time--literally--runs out.

Author Notes

Margaret Fortune wrote her first story at the age of six and has been writing ever since. She lives in Wisconsin. Nova is her first novel.

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Lia Johansen is 16 years old and alone and has recently been rescued with other refugees from the invasion that left her planet in tatters. Her parents are dead, and she has no memories of anything except her name and her mission. Lia is a human bomb, and she is programmed to blow up the space station in 36 hours. The protagonist assumes that she is a clone or, perhaps, a robot because she has no memories of a past at all, until she meets Michael, a boy who seems to know her. The ticking clock looms large until, suddenly, it stops: she is a dud. Unable to jump-start the device, Lia begins to feel that maybe she has a second chance and, possibly, a future. Her friendship with Michael deepens, and she makes other friends-so when the clock randomly begins to tick off the minutes and seconds, Lia is uncertain that she wants to continue to the end of her mission. If she goes to Nova, she will die alongside all her new companions. Teens will understand Lia's reluctance to give up her newly discovered friends and may make a connection between suicide bombers of today and the mission with which she has been tasked. This work will hold readers' attentions until the surprising end. VERDICT Hand this to young adults who enjoy their dystopia laced with a bit of love and self-discovery.-Connie Williams, Petaluma High School, CA © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

This YA-flavored debut lacks the complexity to do its themes justice. Sixteen-year-old Lia Johansen, if that's who she really is, contains an implanted time bomb set to detonate on a populated space station within hours of her arrival there. When the mechanism malfunctions, she is left to contend with questions about her identity and her mission. With no instructions on how to proceed in the event of failure, she wanders aimlessly as she struggles to reconstruct her forgotten past-until she meets a boy who triggers deep memories within her, as well as an onrushing feeling of young love. But is she remembering her own actual past, or that of the Lia of whom she suspects she might be a clone? Or are both she and her memories nothing more than laboratory-created constructs? Johansen's existential angst over her humanity is mildly compelling, and the novel's resolution is neat and satisfying, but the book resembles nothing so much as a toned-down version of Total Recall. Agent: Lindsay Ribar, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In the first installment of a projected new series, a 16-year-old girl, Lia Johansen, arrives at New Sol Space Station after living for several years in a colony that had been turned into a prison camp. Two warring human factions have signed a cease-fire, and it looks like this one, the latest in a string, might actually last. But then something happens to change Lia's outlook in a rather drastic way: she discovers that she is not Lia at all, but rather a clone, a living bomb, designed to explode and wipe out the space station and everyone on it. A malfunction (or is it?) in her timing system prevents her from carrying out her purpose, and, instead, she begins to draw on Lia's implanted memories and her own unfamiliar emotions to learn to become human. There is much to praise about this novel, including its clever rethinking of an SF standby, the interstellar war, and its carefully drawn characters (Lia could easily have come off as a, um, clone of The Hunger Games' Katniss Everdeen). There are some very nice plot surprises, too, best left unrevealed here, that should give readers some thrills and chills. A super start to what looks like a fine series; readers will be eager for the next installment.--Pitt, David Copyright 2015 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Lia Johansen comes to awareness as her shuttle docks at New Sol station, knowing two things: her name and that she is a human bomb set to detonate in 36 hours. She and the others on her shuttle are recently released POWs, and Lia's plan is to lay low among her fellow refugees until she goes nova. But her countdown clock seems to have developed a glitch-running down and stopping inexplicably, leaving her unsure of how much time she has left. Then she runs into Michael, a boy she remembers from her childhood. VERDICT The gimmicky but effective narrative device of a running clock keeps the tension in this debut taut as a wire. Lia is supposed to be 16, as is her love interest Michael, but owing to the complicated nature of Lia's identity and burdens, she often seems far older. A solid choice for adult or teen sf collections. © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.