Cloze exercise: Plot
* Fill in the gaps using vocab from the WORD BANK in the shaded box at the bottom
Nik is a high school student in Cityside, which is divided from Southsideby a bridge. The hostiles live in Southside,
making raids every now and then, blowing up Cityside landmarks until the Cityside army forces them back and retakes their territory. Citysiders believe they are on the priviledged side and that the Southsiders live in poverty andsqualor.
Nik doesn’t remember his parents, he assumes they diedin a former uprising when he was small. He was delivered to the boarding school at which he is just about to complete his education and has dedicated his life to working towards getting recruited by ISIS: the Internal securityand intelligence Services, who are behind the war. They take the very best – the smartest in maths and physics, the strongest, the mostly religiously pliable. Nik is one of the smartestin his graduating class and it’s widely assumed that ISIS will recruithim.
When they don’t, everyone is stunned, most of all Nik. He tries to seek answers from some of theteachersbut they refuse to talk about it, saying that it’s not for them to say. That tells Nik that there’s a secret reason that they didn’t choose him and he’s desperate to find out what it is. Before he can, Southside bomb the school, some of his friends are killed and the younger brother, Sol, of one of them is kidnapped and taken over the bridge. Nik and Sol’s sister, Fyffe, travel into Southsides, determined to find him and bring him back. Nik is able to speak a little of the language, called Brekken, due to his time hanging out with one of the security men at the boarding school, who spoke it fluently. Luckily, Fyffe has a rudimentary knowledge of the language as well, which she learned from the servants her wealthy family employs. They know Sol will be being held for ransom, or even trade for body parts and Nik and Fyffe want to find him before any offers and deals can be brokered, or any preconception finalised.
Nik and Fyffe seem to fit in easily to Southside society; Fyffe begins to work in the infirmarycaring for the wounded and Nik works with some of the technology, intercepting messages and deciphering codes, which allows him access to the sort of information he needs to find out as he searches for the kidnapped boy. Nik finds himself making makes friends and allies
amongst the Brekken people:Lanya, a girl who challenges his cover-ups about people in Southside; Lekova, an older woman who holds onto her hope for peace, and Vega, the commander who is initially suspicious of Nik but can’t deny that he consistently conducts himself with honour.
Along the way, Nik stumbles upon clues and trafficked which lead him to uncover the mystery of his own birth, placement in the boarding school and rejection by ISIS. He discovers uncomfortable truths about his parentage and starts to make sense of the early memories he has of his mother and a woman calledFrieda. He realises the significance of the talismanhe has worn his whole life and eventually learns the not-so-welcome truth about his father. In fact, Nik discovers that nothing is as it seemed whilst he was safe over in Cityside. Not only that, but he himself is not who he has assumedhe is all these years either.
Eventually, tired of the fighting and of other people telling him what to do, Nik rejects the promises ISIS make him in return for his pledge to undergo ‘debriefing’ (a brainwashing treatment). With Fyffe’s help, he escapes. Nik returns to the bridge, to say goodbye to the dead. As he does so, he meets his father again and tries to make him understand the human cost of war, and that, when people are dying, there is no ‘right’ anymore.