Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
November 09, 2021
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The freeway is coming.

It will cut the neighborhood in two. Construction has already started, pushing toward this corridor of condemned houses and cracked concrete with the momentum of the inevitable. Yet there you are, in the fifth house on the left, fighting for your life.

Ramey, I.

The victim of the bet between two manufactured gods: the seductive and lethal Roxy (Oxycontin), who is at the top of her game, and the smart, high-achieving Addison (Adderall), who is tired of being the helpful one, and longs for a more dangerous, less wholesome image. The wager—a contest to see who can bring their mark to “the Party” first—is a race to the bottom of a rave that has raged since the beginning of time. And you are only human, dazzled by the lights and music. Drawn by what the drugs offer—tempted to take that step past helpful to harmful…and the troubled places that lie beyond.

But there are two I. Rameys—Isaac, a soccer player thrown into Roxy’s orbit by a bad fall and a bad doctor and Ivy, his older sister, whose increasing frustration with her untreated ADHD leads her to renew her acquaintance with Addy.

Which one are you?

Editor review

1 review
(Updated: October 03, 2021)
Overall rating
Writing Style
What worked: Intense, gripping portrayal of the recent opioid epidemic. In this novel, the Synthetic Gods toy with human souls. Roxy and Addison make a wager on two siblings that lead to deadly results. Though the world of the Synthetic Gods is a fantasy, there is unfortunately so much real about them.

Issac is the 'good' brother, who is on a path to going to a good college. He's the one that has always looked out for his wayward sister Ivy. One event though tosses stereotypes of who are addicts out the window. The relationship between these two siblings is realistic with how they argue and act like they don't want to be bothered, but when things go bad, they have each other's backs.

The Synthetic Gods are based on real drugs. Roxy is OxyContin and Addison is Adderall. There are other gods too like Hiro-heroin, Al-Alcohol, and a number of others. There's truth in how some of these drugs end up leading users to harder, more deadly ones. There is nothing preachy in this story. What's hauntingly realistic is how one choice might lead someone down a dark path.

One heart-wrenching truth is revealed by Hiro...

'...Decisions made in laboratories and secret closed rooms that are our nurseries. Strange to think that the very humans we dominate are also the ones who gave rise to our power...'

Once again Shusterman has a winning story filled with drug gods that play with humans in a deadly game that leads many to unfortunate conclusions. Dark, raw, and realistic this story tackles the drug epidemic that harms not only the victims but those they leave behind.
Good Points
1. Intense, gripping
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