When a robbery attempt at Club Seven goes wrong, Kai is captured by a handler and his bestial soldier boy. She wakes up inside the military base with no idea what happened to her twin brother Dex.
Things go from bad to worse when Kai is started on a drug and training regimen, and forced to take injections of blue compound. The scientists in charge plan to make her into a working soldier who will mine the mysterious power crystals beneath the desert. Kai becomes a victim of the bully Finn, a handsome but nasty soldier whose years on red compound seem to have erased his humanity.
Still, she begins to pity the Seven Soldiers, including the monstrous boy who tried to rip her to shreds at the club. They appear to be nothing more than genetically enhanced, drug-controlled teenagers.
On the outside, Dex and his tech-savvy boyfriend try to crack the soldiers’ chemical code to find a weakness that will break the system. But Kai has already been drawn deep into her new world. Strong feelings for the soldiers she’s come to know have started to cloud her judgment.
Can she escape and find Dex without becoming a monster herself?
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Tracy Auerbach studied English and film in college, and education in graduate school. Some of her college poetry was published in the “Penn Review” (The University of Pennsylvania’s premier literary magazine). She went on to teach and write S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) curriculum for the New York Department of Education. This helped to polish her writing skills and ignite her passion for fantasy and science fiction. Her first scholarly article, published in “Language Magazine,” was about the value of kinesthetic learning for children.
On the fiction side, Tracy’s work is featured in the online literary journal “Micro-horror,” and “The Writing Disorder” fiction anthology. Her first novel, “The Human Cure,” was published in paperback in 2014. “The Sin Soldiers,” the first book in her YA Sci-fi “Fragments” trilogy, was released July 2019 from Parliament House Press, followed by “The Crystal War” and “The Hollow World”. Her YA urban fantasy, “Sons of Fire,” came out early in 2020. When she is not teaching or writing, Tracy is usually reading or playing with her own children. She lives in New York with her family.
How did you select your narrator?
I had listened to several sample clips from auditions, and just loved Rocky. I felt like she had the kind of voice someone could listen to for a long period of time - soothing, melodic, and expressive. That was really important to me. Also, her pronunciation of my characters’ names and the places in my world was pretty spot-on, which is so important in fantasy.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
Rocky was extremely communicative, which helped the process. We had several emails going back and forth. I even told her about a few twists that come later in the series, so that she would be able to embed that into the characters early on in a subtle way. She was amazing. I feel that when an audiobook narrator and author can collaborate, you’ll end up with the best possible product.
Were there any real life inspirations behind your writing?
I love thinking about human nature, and the crazy psychological things that go on with our weird species every day. I started to think about using these qualities (addiction, passion, rage) as weapons. What would happen if super soldiers were created – if a war was fought by players who pressed buttons on people to push vice and virtue to their limits?
I liked the idea of a post-apocalyptic world where humanity has had to start over, and the fact that these crystals end up controlling so much of the government, economy, the social system, etc.
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
Absolutely not! When we consume literature, it should be in any modality we choose. Those brain “muscles” that work on visualization are going to fire off whether you read the book visually or if it is read to you. I read to my children. I read to my students. It’s all consumption of literature.
Have any of your characters ever appeared in your dreams?
My characters take up a ton of space in my head. I often think of the characters and their distinct personalities, personal battles, strengths, and weaknesses before the plot is fully formed. It’s like knowing the perfect cast for a show and then building the show around it. I think about them in my spare time, and they play a huge role in my daydreams. I’m not sure if they’ve ever crossed that line into my dreams. I haven’t remembered a lot of dreams over the past few years, but it’s possible. I wouldn’t be surprised
- What's your favorite:
- Food - pie! (several different types, but I’m such a pie fan)
- Song - Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar
- Book - The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan ( a hidden gem)
- Television show - All time? - Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Movie - The Princess Bride
- Band - Probably The Who or The Rolling Stones
- Sports team - meh - not such a sports fan. Sorry!
- City - Melbourne. I loved it there, although I do have some NYC loyalty
What bits of advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Food - pie! (several different types, but I’m such a pie fan)
What’s next for you?
I’ve been dreaming up an adult fantasy that I’m super excited about. Also, I’ve been very busy with my “day job” and with doing some content edits and beta reads for fellow authors, so I'm looking forward to plunging back into my own writing this summer. Now that the whole Fragments trilogy has been released I’m excited about starting with a clean slate for new worlds and characters.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written and why?
I have a definite soft spot for Charlie from the Fragments series. He was built to be this monstrous soldier, and he just continues to surprise people. I like that he takes advantage of the fact that people are constantly underestimating him, based on what he’s supposed to be. He’s also just insanely loyal to his friends, and his struggles against what he’s been programmed to be just make him a really sympathetic character.
How many books are in the Fragments series, and do you have a favorite?
There are three books in the Fragments series –The Sin Soldiers, The Crystal War, and The Hollow World, which was released in January 2021. I think that my favorite is The Crystal War, because the second book in a trilogy is where you really get to torture your characters, but you’ve grown to love them, so it’s heart-wrenching. I also love The Hollow World, because there’s always something satisfying about endings.
About the Narrator: Rocky Taylor
After more than a decade of bringing stories to life as a stagehand Rocky has transitioned from behind the scenes to behind the mic.
As a mediator, humanitarian aid worker and partner dancer, she brings a rich array of life experience and passion to her work. Often described as grounded, playful and fiercely determined, she has a knack for looking to the heart of the matter, finding the nuances within conflict and the beauty and complexity in people, whether in real life or on the page.
Articulate, capable, and easy to work with, she treats each manuscript with care and professionalism and enjoys working from her home studio.