Tessa, the nickname for Teresa Cruz, is sixteen and isn’t from the RUNA. She’s from the province of Panama, which is where Justin has spent his exile. If you recall the background post, I explained that the Mephistopheles virus wasn’t as lethal to those of mixed genetic backgrounds. So, Central America--which has a pretty diverse population--survived better than other places (sorry, Europe). Compared to the RUNA, it’s still pretty savage, though. It has rigid tiers of upper and lower classes and a weak, corrupt government influenced by gangs that vie for control of the city. That being said, they still have electricity and bars, so Justin decided it was the best he could do.
Tessa’s great-grandparents were actually refugees from the RUNA way back when. They fled the genetic mandates that controlled who you were supposed to have kids with. Despite settling in Panama, they were always homesick and passed on this worship of the RUNA to their descendants. So, when Justin is able to get Tessa admittance into the RUNA, it’s an offer her family can’t refuse. Her father helped Justin considerably in Panama, so Justin feels a sense of obligation. He also sees some of the same potential and intelligence he’s so proud of in himself in Tessa, and he thinks her life would go to waste being one of the upper class Panamanian women are educated at home and kept sequestered from dangerous elements outside.
So, Tessa becomes what’s called in literature “the innocent.” Most of the book takes place in the RUNA. Justin and Mae are from there, so they’re totally drinking its Kool-Aid. When we’re in their POVs, they think it’s the most amazing, wonderful, superior place in the whole world. Tessa, as an outsider, looks at it through a different lens. Certainly, she’s still dazzled. After all, the technology is leagues beyond what she grew up with, and the possibilities for a young woman are endless by comparison. Nonetheless, she doesn’t necessarily see the RUNA’s sense of superiority, control over religion and genes, and obsession with media as the awesome things everyone else does.
Lastly, Tessa truly is an innocent, not just in the literary sense. She’s young, and no matter how intelligent she is, she’s been sheltered. This makes for an interesting contrast to jaded and worldly Justin and Mae, not to mention creating a few “fish out of water” situations.
That wraps up our principle characters. Tomorrow, I’ll sum things up with a glossary of all these crazy terms, and next week…first excerpt!