“Written in gold script on a wooden beam across my head is the school’s motto: WE BUILD THE FUTURE.”
– Amy McCulloch, Jinxed
Hi everyone! I’m delighted to share something extra special with you all today… An extract from the fabulous new book, Jinxed by Amy McCulloch, author of The Potion Diaries!
I seriously loved this YA and recommend you check it out for a fab adventure about girls in STEM and cute robotic animals that has plenty of heart in it and will give you all the feels with its exploration of friendship, crushes, family, and what makes you “real”.
Here’s the extract, enjoy!
The elevator doors open into the underground parking lot, but I’m not there for the cars. Every apartment in the building is allocated its own small, rectangular storage locker. Most people keep bikes, tents or hockey equipment down here, but I convinced Mom to let me turn our locker into my own personal workshop. At first it was like being in a big cage, but I’ve hung so much stuff off the wire mesh fencing, I’ve created a nice, private space. And I almost never see anyone down here. It’s just me and the unwanted clutter. Exactly how I like it. My cave.
Bill Gates, Bill Hewlett and Steve Jobs may have had their parents’ garages, but Monica Chan and I have our condo lockers.
‘When you have the drive to invent, you find the space to make it happen’ – one of my favourite Monica quotes.
I installed a thumbprint scanner in addition to the normal padlock for extra security. Occasionally it’s buggy and I have to force my way in, but this time I press the pad of my finger against it and it opens easily.
Home sweet home.
The place is a Little Mermaid’s grotto of electronic equipment and tools, including the precious soldering iron I’d used to fix Petal upstairs. I have drawers filled with silver wire and screws of all different sizes, PCBs stolen from broken equipment or rummaged from yard sales (we still call them that, even though none of us have yards – it’s mostly people selling unwanted junk on the advertising boards of our building). I have large sheets of thin metal for when I make repairs, rolls of different filaments for my 3D printer, an old TV so I can watch my favourite K-dramas as I work, some computer monitors for Zora to look at code on, and a bookshelf filled with old manuals and scavenged university textbooks.
In the far corner is a camp bed. Mom doesn’t like it when I sleep down here, but sometimes I work until my eyes droop and there’s no way I can make it to the elevator without nodding off. As long as I’m prepared to grovel in the morning, I can get away with it.
Above the bed is the cheesy vision board Zora made me put up. It was a school assignment that we took to another level – we’d been tasked with creating a collage of images to define our specific goals for the future. We kept our school ones quite generic and boring, but made special versions for ourselves that were much more precise.
Mine had pictures of Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul – the dream trip I wanted to take after graduating. I had researched train routes, ferries, accommodation, everything.
It had a photo of a spaniel baku, my dream companion.
It had pictures of Profectus Academy, of students walking through the huge two-storey height doors, into the hallowed hallways and then graduating as new Moncha employees.
It had a picture of the research and innovation lab at Moncha, where I dreamed of working as a companioneer.
And it had a picture of Monica Chan herself, standing, arms folded and looking powerful, signature fringe on point, in front of the next generation of bakus.
I kneel forward on the squeaky camp bed to take the pictures down – even the ones of the trip. I’d never be able to afford to go now, on a beetle baku owner’s salary. I blink back tears. It’s hard to look at the gaping hole left on the corkboard.
Taking a deep breath to pull myself together, I dump the clippings in the garbage can and get settled at my scratched-up glass-top desk. I place Linus down on my workstation and pull up the typical schematics for a dormouse baku on the nearest screen. You can find anything on the Moncha-cloud, but most people don’t mess with their bakus as Moncha approved vets will only work on bakus that haven’t had any unauthorized repairs. Zora, however, trusts me.
The work takes my mind off Profectus, and it takes me a good hour to get Linus’s tail straightened out, manipulating the metal back into shape with the help of a heated clamp and the soldering iron. He looks almost as good as new. I can’t check the movement or camera until he’s charged, so I leash him to the mains using an old cable of Petal’s. It’s not nearly as fast as leashing it to his owner, but it will work.
I rub my eyes, the impact of the crazy day finally hitting me. I can’t believe I started the day in the Moncha Store, getting my leash and picking my beetle baku. Feels like a
I suppose I should leash my scarab beetle and give him a name so he can start learning my behaviours and downloading my feed from the Moncha-cloud.
Ringo? Too retro.
Herbie? Too eccentric.
Dune? Too geeky.
I’m stalling, and I know it. I lift the backpack up, groaning at how heavy it is. When it lands on the desk with a resounding thud, I remember the hunk of twisted metal I carried home with me. That’s what’s weighing the pack down. With a lot more excitement than before, I tear into the already ruined backpack, tossing the beetle up on to a shelf, still in his box. I’ll leash and name him later.
I tip out the crumpled metal, pulling away bits of dirt and leaves that cling to the surface. It has no distinguishable form, but my instinct was good: there is something really valuable here. The metal that isn’t covered in either my blood or scorched by some sort of burn mark is dark as onyx, a deep, rich black that I can almost see my reflection in it. I stare at it without touching it, trying to figure out where to begin.
The hole has almost torn the thing in two. I can’t figure out what would have caused a ‘wound’ like that. Certainly not being run over by a train, or a falling from a height.
Finally, I realize that the metal is curled in on itself around the hole – I’m going to have to unravel it to see if there are any parts to salvage. Unfortunately the burn means the beautiful black metal itself is pretty useless and will just end up in the garbage.
Junk. I wasted all that time and energy carrying home junk.
No point being delicate with it now. I take the metal in my hands and wrench it apart. It refuses to budge at first and I think about getting a hammer from the toolbox, but then finally it gives.
There, tucked into the burnt space, is a face.
I hope you all enjoyed that as much as I did! For the chance to win a copy of Jinxed AND a signed copy of The Potion Diaries, head over to my twitter @thecosyreader to enter!
And don’t forget to check out the other stops along the blog tour!
Thank you all for reading!
Who else loved Jinxed as much as I did?
What are your favourite, futuristic reads?