Set in a future North America that is struggling to recover after famine and global war, Swipe follows the lives of three kids caught in the middle of a conflict they didn’t even know existed. United under a charismatic leader, every citizen of the American Union is required to get the Mark on their 13th birthday in order to gain the benefits of citizenship.

The Mark is a tattoo that must be swiped by special scanners for everything from employment to transportation to shopping. It’s almost Logan Langly’s 13th birthday and he knows he should be excited about getting the Mark, but he hasn’t been able to shake the feeling he’s being watched. Not since his sister went to get her Mark five years ago . . . and never came back.

When Logan and his friends discover the truth behind the Mark, will they ever be able to go back to being normal teenagers? Find out in the first book of this exciting series that is Left Behind meets Matched for middle-grade readers.

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When I first received Swipe for review, I was a little apprehensive, because it was touted as Religious Fiction. These types of books often have a tendency to feature a beat-you-over-the-head message about God and religion. So, I was more than pleasantly surprised to find that Swipe was entertaining and suspenseful, with just the slightest hint of a religious undertone.

Even ignoring my own religious upbringing, it was easy to imagine the world setting in Swipe. Sometimes it certainly seems that our country could be torn apart and ravaged by war, earthquakes, and famine, causing families to be uprooted and the entire infrastructure of the world as we know it to crumble. I could also easily imagine some type of electronic “mark”, basically a microchip, implanted on our persons that will hold identfying and tracking information, and how terrifying it could be to go through with getting one.

Enter Logan, whose birthday is coming up, and thus, must decide whether or not he will be counted as Marked or Markless. Normally, this is a “no-brainer” for the citizens of Spokie, but Logan’s sister, Lily, never came back after going to receive her Mark and since then, he’s had the sneaking suspicion of being watched. When his world collides with Erin, a confused girl who moved across the country with her super-secretive father, he soon learns things about the government and the Mark program that causes him to question everything he had ever been taught.

Logan and Erin, the main characters, made a great team and the camraderie between them was sweet, humorous, and realistic. I love how they were so inquisitive and questioning about their environments. Above all, I felt for both Logan and Erin. Their situations are easy to relate to, for both children and adults, and I found myself rooting for each of them in their individual quests. The only thing that gave me pause were the often-adult conversations and thoughts they had, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I do think some middle-graders would have a difficult time following along in some cases.

The mystery surrounding “the Dust”, the group that is watching Logan, and the sinister goings-on of the government will keep you guessing throughout the story. Sometimes it was hard to know who the “bad guys” really were, which was fun, and kept me on my toes.

The technology described in Swipe is sure to fascinate its intended audience – from rollersticks as transportation and virtual tablets and displays in schools, to nanotea and Quorn, a meatless alternative. Even the description of the houses in Spokie are foreign and interesting. Logan’s house, for example, is completely vertical, with one room per floor, causing his home to be more than 10 stories high. (This is because the government needed fertile soil for agriculture; therefore, houses with a smaller foundational footprint were built.) Imagine not crossing the house to go to another room, but having to use stairs or an elevator. This could be really cool or really annoying! 😉

Overall, Swipe is a great read that will entertain and fasincate, and possibly even encourage children and teenagers to be inquisitive and questioning about the people and happenings around them, which I believe is incredibly important. There are no questionable scenes or language, so this book is safe for children and teenagers of all ages. I will certainly be passing this book on to my niece and nephews and hope they enjoy it even more than I did.

*A copy of this book was provided by Thomas Nelson via YA Bound in exchange for an honest review.

If you think Swipe sounds like your kind of read, or if you’d like to pass it on to someone you know, Thomas Nelson has graciously offered a paperback copy of Swipe for the purpose of a giveaway on BlookGirl! Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below and a winner will be chosen on May 21st!

Also, be sure to check out Sneak, the sequel to Swipe, which is due out on September 4, 2012. It sounds exciting and action-packed!