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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Series Review! Uninvited & Unleashed by Sophie Jordan

Uninvited (Uninvited #1) by Sophie Jordan
Genre: Young Adult (Dystopian/Romance)
Date Published: January 28, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen

The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan's chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she's destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton's tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn't feel any different, but genes don't lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he's not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

Uninvited is the first book in the Uninvited series by Sophie Jordan. This was a pretty intriguing and interesting story about a world where you are labeled as dangerous and murderous based on whether you have a certain gene or not. Davy has lead a pretty pampered life up until now, when she finds out she has the killer gene. She has friends turn on her, family treats her different, and she's thrown into some pretty hostile situations. She handles herself about as well as I'd expect someone to handle these situations, plus the reactions people have to her is basically how I would have expected them to act in real life. I could easily envision this as reality as I read. The author's writing captured the nature of people, both good and bad. I was pretty impressed with Uninvited, and I'm anxious to get started on the next book.



When I was three years old, I sat down at the piano and played Chopin. Mom claims I heard it the week before in a hotel elevator. I don’t know where I heard it. I just knew how to place my fingers on the keys . . . how to make them move. Like one knows how to walk, it was just something I knew. Something I did.

Music has always been my gift. That thing I was good at without having to try. First piano. Then the flute. Then violin. It never took me long to get the hang of a new instrument. All my life I heard words like gifted. Extraordinary. Blessed. When everyone discovered I possessed a voice to rival my skills with an instrument, I was called a “prodigy.”

These talents aside, I had the normal dreams, too. When I was six I decided I would be an archeologist. The following year, a race car driver. There was also the requisite princess fantasy in there I spent hours in my room, building fort castles, only to have my brother knock them down. I just pretended he was a dragon and rebuilt those castles.

I had all these dreams to become something. Someone.

No one ever said I couldn’t.

No one ever said killer.

Closing my eyes, I savor the sensation of Zac’s lips on my throat. He inches toward the sensitive spot right below my ear and I giggle, my body shaking in his arms.

“Zac, we’re at school,” I remind him, arching away and shoving halfheartedly at his shoulder.

He levels brilliant green eyes on me, and my breath catches.

Two freshman girls pass us. They try to avert their eyes, play it cool, and look straight ahead, but I can see it’s a battle for them. A battle they lose. Their gazes skip to slide over Zac admiringly. He’s in his gym shorts. An Everton rugby shirt stretches tight over his lean torso. When he lifts an arm and props his hand on the locker behind me, his shirt rides up to reveal a flat stomach, sculpted from long hours at the gym. My mouth dries a little.

The girls walk away, whispering loud enough for me to hear: “Freakin’ hot . . . so lucky . . .”

He’s oblivious to them. “But don’t you like this?” He leans in, backing me against the lockers, and places a lingering, tender kiss at the corner of my mouth. “And this.” He kisses my jawline next.

My stomach flutters and I’m about to give in, forget that I have Mrs. McGary and tons of calculus homework waiting, and surrender to making out with Zac outside the orchestra room, where Anthony Miller is less than successfully warming up on the drums. One of the only instruments I don’t play, but I’m sure I could still play better than Anthony.

Zac pulls back with a sigh and gives me one of those smoldering looks that I know he thinks is irresistible. Only because it is. Only because every girl at school trips over herself when he bestows that smile on them.

But he chose me. My heart swells inside my chest and I let him kiss me again even though I’m already late for practice and Mrs. McGary hates it when I’m late. She constantly reminds me that I’m supposed to be the example for everyone.

Tori walks up to us with a roll of her eyes. “Get a room, you two.” She pulls open the orchestra room door and the sound of the drum solo inside murders my ears.

She holds the door open for me. “Coming, Davy?”

Zac frowns at her. “She’ll be there in a minute.”

Tori hesitates, staring at me with that whipped puppy-dog look on her face. “Are we still studying tonight? I thought you wanted me to help you with your calculus.”

I nod. “I do.” Calculus. The bane of my existence. I barely made an A these last six weeks. And that A was mostly due to Tori and her endless patience with me. “We’re still on.”

She smiles, looking mollified.

I smile back. “I’ll be there in a minute. Save me a seat.”

Tori disappears inside the orchestra room. Zac blows out a breath.

I smooth a hand over his firm chest. “Be nice.”

“She’s always interfering.”

I make an effort to divide my time between Zac and Tori equally, but it’s a balancing act. I never manage to satisfy either one of them. “Have I said that I can’t wait until next year?” I ask. It’s the only thing I can think to say in moments like this when he complains about Tori.

He stares at me knowingly. He has a way of looking at me. So deeply. Like he can see right to my very soul. He knows I’m trying to distract him with the promise of our future. Fortunately, it works.

His fingers thread through my hair. He loves it when I wear it down, loves touching it. Touching me. Yeah. I’m kind of addicted to my boyfriend. It’s getting harder and harder to stop ourselves these days.

“Yeah. And you know the best part of it all?” His eyes hold mine. “Our very own dorm rooms.”

I laugh. Next year. The dream of it tantalizes me. Me at Juilliard. Zac at NYU. I know I shouldn’t be excited at the prospect of my best friend attending college hundreds of miles away from me, but it’ll be nice not having to worry about hurting Tori’s feelings all the time.

My phone rings. I squeeze out of his arms to see who’s calling me. With a quick glance at Zac, I mouth, Mom.

He lifts an eyebrow. My mom is usually still at work this time of day.

“Hello?” I answer.

“Davy, I need you home.”

I hesitate before answering. Not because of her demand but because of the tremble in her voice. So unlike Mom. She always talks fast, her words spilling out in a rush. Hours spent bossing people around at her design firm, I guess.

“I have practice—”

“Now, Davy,” she cuts me off.

“Is everything all right?” Silence meets my question and then I know everything isn’t all right. “Is it Dad?”

“Your father’s fine. He’s here.”

Dad’s home, too? He’s more of a workaholic than Mom. “It’s Mitchell,” I announce, dread pooling inside me. “Is he okay?”

“Yes. Yes. He’s fine,” she says hurriedly, that nervous tremor still there. Maybe even worse than moments before. I hear the rumble of voices in the background and the phone muffles, like Mom’s covering the receiver with her hand so I won’t hear. Then her voice returns to my ear. “Come home. I’ll explain everything when you get here.”

“Okay.” I hang up and face Zac.

He stares at me sympathetically. “Mitchell?”

I nod, worry knotting inside me for my brother. What’s he done this time? “Let me just let Mrs. McGary know.” I stick my head inside the orchestra room. Mrs. McGary is at her desk in the corner talking on the phone. I motion to her but she shakes her head and holds up a finger for me to wait.

Seeing me with Zac in the doorway, Tori heads over. The orchestra room has always been a “no Zac zone,” and I know she likes it that way. “What’s going on?”

“My mom called. I have to go home.”

Frowning, she touches my arm. “Is everything all right?”

“I don’t know.” I bite my lip.

She angles her head, her eyes bright with concern. “Mitchell?”

I shake my head. “I don’t know.”

Her hand moves up and down my arm in a consoling manner. “It’ll be all right. He’s just going through a phase. He’ll get it out of his system.”

If that is the case, my older brother has been going through a phase since he was thirteen. And at twenty-one, I am not convinced he is going to grow out of it anytime soon.

“You’ll see.” Tori nods with certainty. “He’s a good guy.”

“Thanks.” A quick glance reveals Mrs. McGary still on the phone. “Look, will you let her know—”

“Of course.” Tori gives my fingers a comforting squeeze. “Go. I’ll head over when practice ends. Want me to pick you up a smoothie on the way? Watermelon?”

“Thanks, but I better pass. I don’t know what’s going down at home.”

“C’mon.” Zac takes my hand. I grab my backpack, and together we head upstairs to the classroom level. We pass several friends. Zac keeps us moving when they try to stop us to talk.

Zac’s best friend is the only one who succeeds. A consummate flirt, Carlton never lets me slip by without a hug. “Hey, gorgeous.”

I step back from his embrace. “Hey.”

Carlton bumps fists with Zac. “Doing weights today, man?”

Zac tugs me back to his side. “Nah. Gotta get Davy home.”

Carlton winks at me. “Cool. See you guys later.”

“Hey, Bridget,” I call out to the sophomore girl who sits beside me in orchestra. She’s second-chair violin. She jerks to a sudden stop, her hand clutching the railing as she stares at me in almost wonder.

The sophomore nods rapidly, holding still even as we keep climbing. “Hi, Davy.” Her gaze slides to Zac and her cheeks grow pink. “Hey, Zac.”

He looks back at her with a blank look. “Hey.”

I smile a little.

“Why are you smiling?” he asks as we reach the first floor. “You don’t even know her name.”

He wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me closer against him. “I know your name.”

I laugh. “Oh, really? Just my name?”

His gaze slides over me, and it’s a hot look that makes me all fluttery inside. “I know a few other things about you, too.”

“You’d like to know a few other things,” I tease.

“I will.” He grins, so sure of himself. So sure of us.

He gets the door for me and we leave the Academic Building behind, walking along the pebbled path toward the parking lot. There’s a nip to the late afternoon—what consists of a Texas winter making its final stand. Soon it will be so hot that shirts stick to skin, and the air feels like steam.

I’m looking forward to New York. I’ve only seen snow once, ten years ago. It melted almost immediately, just sticking to the rooftops for the day. My brother and I scraped what we could off the lawn into snowballs and stuck them in the freezer, hoping to save them. They resembled dingy, brownish balls of ice with twigs and dried leaves sticking out of them. Mom threw them away before we ever got a chance to recover them from the freezer.

My gaze skims the brown-green hills etched against a sky so blue it hurts your eyes. The headmaster’s white-pillared mansion looks down on us from the top of the hill as we pass the refectory where we eat. A perfectly manicured expanse of green stretches to our left. In the distance, flags slap on the wind, mingling with the soft drone of a golf cart driven by the head of campus security as he rolls toward the practice fields. Everyone calls him “Snappy” because he likes to snap his fingers to get your attention. My brother coined the nickname years ago as a freshman. Snappy busted Mitchell on more than one occasion.

We descend the hill toward the parking lot. Seniors get the best spots. It’s one of our privileges at Everton, in addition to having our very own senior lounge replete with couches, TV, and soda and snack machines. Zac’s parked in the front row beneath a crape myrtle tree in full bloom. Tiny white blossoms decorate the hood of his car.

“Someone needs to cut that thing down.”

“It’s pretty.”

He squeezes my hand. “Not as pretty as you.”

I roll my eyes, but still smile. He unlocks his BMW and walks me around to the passenger side. I love that he still does this. Even six months into our relationship, he makes me feel special. Like every day is a first date.

Before I can get in the car, he stops me. Placing his hands on either side of the car, he traps me between the vehicle and his body. My heart speeds up. I smile up at him, thinking he’s going to kiss me again. But he doesn’t. His vivid green eyes drill into me with unusual intensity.

“Davy. You know what you do to me, how you make me feel. . . .”

I touch his chest, flattening my palms against him. “You make me happy, too.”

“Good. Because that’s all I ever want, Davy. To make you happy.”

“You do,” I assure him.

He nods but he still doesn’t move. He stares at me like he’s memorizing me.

I angle my head, wondering at his odd seriousness. It’s not like he goes around declaring himself all the time. “Zac?”

“I love you,” he murmurs, the words falling slowly.

Everything inside me tightens. He’s never said those words before.

My heart clenches and the ache there is so sweet. It’s a perfect kind of agony. I suck in a sharp breath and then release it in a rush. Words are impossible. They stick inside my closed throat.

His gaze darts around and he almost looks nervous. “I didn’t know I was going to say that here. Right now. In the parking lot. I mean . . . I’ve known for weeks that I love you. You’re all I think about—” He grins down at me. “I’m babbling.”

“I noticed that.”

He kisses me. We’ve shared some amazing kisses before but nothing like this. Zac loves me. He. Loves. Me.

He breaks for air and mutters against my lips, “God, I’ve been trying to get up the courage to tell you that. Sorry it wasn’t someplace more special.”

I swat him on the shoulder. “Why would you be afraid to tell me that?” Probably the same reason I’ve been afraid to say the words, too.

His expression sobers and his arms tighten around me. “I don’t know if I can handle you not loving me back.”

I touch his face. Place my fingertips against his jaw. It’s a little bristly. My fingers move over his skin, reveling in the texture. “Well, that’s not possible. I think I loved you before you ever even asked me out.”

Relief washes over his face. He kisses me once more, sweet and lingering before we finally move and get inside the car.

It’s a short drive to my house. I sit there in a daze, absorbing the sensation of his hand holding mine between us, and everything it means. Me. Zac. Forever. That’s what it feels like. I know I’m just seventeen, but why not? Why not forever?

We’re at my house in ten minutes. In this instance, I wish I didn’t live so close to campus. Wish we could stay in our little world for a few hours more.

Two extra cars sit in the circular driveway. I don’t know who they belong to, but my gaze drifts to Dad’s Range Rover. Home in the middle of the week in broad daylight. That never happens.

Zac gets out with me. He quickly reclaims my hand. We’ve barely reached the wide rock steps leading to the double front doors when one of them swings opens.

Mom steps out and I stop.

She looks pale, her normally smooth complexion drawn tight. Mom’s key to looking young is to never get in the sun. As in—never. She only swims in our pool at night. But right now, even those efforts seem lost.

“Davy,” she says my name on a breath, staring at me in an intense, devouring way that makes me want to touch my face and check that I haven’t broken out in a rash suddenly.

Her gaze skitters to Zac. She nods at him. “Thanks for dropping her off.” The translation is clear: leave. My parents adore Zac. If I didn’t already know something is wrong, then I do now.

Zac gives my hand a squeeze and locks his impossibly green eyes on me. The concern is there—the love. I’d seen it before but now it has a name. Now I know. “Call me.”

I nod.

With one last look, he walks back to his car.

Then it’s just Mom and me. She looks over her shoulder and I can hear the voices drifting out from somewhere in the house. I recognize Dad’s baritone and not just because it’s familiar. It’s the loudest.

“Mom? What’s going on?”

She motions me inside.

I drop my backpack inside the foyer. We walk across the dark wood floor into the living room. I inch inside warily, toeing the Oriental rug.

Immediately, I see Dad, standing, pacing. His arms and hands are all movement as he talks. No Mitchell though. My gaze sweeps the cavernous room. I recognize my headmaster, Mr. Grayson. He rises when we enter. He’s never been to our house before, and it’s strange seeing him here and not on campus. As though the only place he belongs is at Everton.

And there’s another man. I’ve never seen him before. He’s dressed in a cheap suit. The cuffs stop well before his hairy wrists and the fit is all wrong, too loose at the shoulders. I’ve been taught to appreciate good suits. Dad wears Caraceni and Gucci. The stranger stays sitting, looking almost bored.

Mr. Grayson tucks one hand inside his suit pocket. He addresses Dad in a placating voice, “Patrick, listen to me. My hands are tied. There’s protocol—”

“Wasn’t there protocol with Mitchell, too?”

Mitchell graduated three years ago. He’s always been in trouble. Drugs. Failing grades. Nothing really improved when he started college, either. He came home first semester and currently lives in the guesthouse. Dad keeps pushing him to work at the bank. An “internship” he calls it. It sounds better than saying, “My son’s a teller at the bank I own.”

Hamilton Bank has been in my family since my greatgrandfather founded it. It looks like that legacy would die with Dad. Mitchell’s not cut out for it, and I have other plans.

Dad waves an arm wildly. “I wrote a check then. A fat donation and everything was fine. Why not this time? This is Davy! She’s a damned prodigy. She sings and has been playing God knows how many instruments since before kindergarten. . . . She even performed for the governor when she was nine!”

I blink. Whatever this is, it’s about me.

“This is beyond my control.” Mr. Grayson speaks evenly, like he’s rehearsed what to say.

Dad storms from the living room, passing me without a word.

Mr. Grayson notices me then. His entire demeanor changes. “Davy.” He claps his hand together in front of him. “How are you?” he asks slowly, like I might have trouble understanding.

“Fine, Mr. Grayson. How are you?”

“Good!” He nods enthusiastically, reminding me of a bobblehead. Weird.

His eyes, however, convey none of this cheer. They flit nervously over me and then around the room—as if sizing up all possible escape routes. Marking the French doors leading outside, he shifts his gaze to the man on the couch.

The headmaster motions to him. “This is Mr. Pollock.”

“Hello,” I greet. “Nice to meet you.”

He doesn’t even respond. He looks me over with small, dark eyes set deeply beneath his eyebrows. His mouth loosens, the moist top lip curling in a vaguely threatening way. The thought seizes me: he doesn’t like me.

Ridiculous, of course. He doesn’t even know me. He’s a stranger. How could he have formed any opinion of me at all?

In the distance, I hear the slap of Dad’s returning footsteps. He enters the room breathlessly even though he didn’t walk far. Even though he plays raquetball every week and is in great shape. His face is flushed like he’s been out in the sun.

He brandishes his checkbook as he sinks into a chair. With his pen poised, he demands: “How much?”

Grayson exchanges a look with the stranger. He clears his throat, speaking almost gently now. “You don’t understand. She can’t come back tomorrow.”

I cut in. “Come back where? What’s going on?”

I move farther into the room. Grayson takes a notable step back, his gaze flying almost desperately to Pollock.

Staring down at his checkbook with fixed focus, Dad shouts, “How much?!”

I jump, my chest tight and uncomfortable. Prickles wash over the skin at the back of my neck. Dad never yells. He’s too dignified for that. Everything about this is wrong.

My stomach churns. I look at Mom. She hovers at the edge of the room, her face pale. Her mouth parts and she moistens her lips as though she’s going to speak, but nothing comes out.

Mr. Pollock rises from the couch, and I see just how short he is. His legs and torso appear almost the same length. His square hands brush over his bad suit. He takes a long, measuring look around our living room, his gaze skimming the furniture, the floor-to-ceiling bookcases, the heavy drapes, and grand piano in the corner that I’ve played ever since I sat down in front of it at age three.

Dad lifts his gaze now, watching Pollock with almost hatred. And something that resembles fear. Although obviously not. Patrick Hamilton fears nothing and no one. Certainly not this man with his beady eyes and ill-fitting suit.

Watching Dad, I marvel at the harsh glitter of his gaze . . . the heavy crash of his breath. A part of me wants to go to him and place a hand on his tightly bunched shoulder. For whatever reason. Maybe to just make me feel better. Because Dad like this freaks me out.

Mr. Pollock stops before Dad and looks down at him. My father rises, still clutching his checkbook in his hand, crushing it.

Pollock jerks his head in my direction. “You can’t buy her way out of this.”

I stare, at a total loss. What did I do? Fear crawls up my throat in hot prickles, and I fight to swallow.

“Dad?” My voice is a dry croak.

He turns to me, the whites of his eyes suddenly pink, shot with emotion.

Mr. Grayson moves to leave. He gives me a small, sympathetic smile as he passes, lifting a hand as though to pat my shoulder and then drops it, changing his mind.

Then it’s Mr. Pollock before me, so close I can smell his sour coffee breath. He flips out a small card. “I’ll be your caseworker. I won’t come here again. From now on, we meet at my office. Be there tomorrow at ten sharp.”

The unspoken words or else hang in the air.

My thoughts jumble together. I glance down at the card but can’t focus on the words.

Then the men are gone. It’s just me and my parents.

I spin to face Mom. “Why do I have to see him tomorrow? I have school—”

“No,” Dad announces, slowly sinking down into a chair. “You don’t.”

Mom moves inside the living room, her hand gliding along the back of the couch as though she needs the support of something solid under her fingers.

Dad drags a hand over his face, muffling his words, but I still hear them: “Oh, my God.”

Those barely there words shudder through me.

I wet my dry lips. “Someone please tell me what’s going on? What did that man mean when he said he’s my caseworker?”

Mom doesn’t look at me. She fixes her stare on Dad. He drops his hand from his face and exhales deeply, shaking his head. “They can’t do this.”

“Oh, Patrick.” She shakes her head as if he just uttered something absurd. “They’ve been doing it all over the country. What can we do?”

“Something,” he snaps. “This isn’t happening. Not to my daughter!” He slams his fist down on the desk and I flinch.

My eyes start to burn as apprehension curls through me sickly. Part of me feels the irrational urge to run. To flee from whatever horrible truth has my parents acting this way. Find Zac and hold him, bury my face in his chest and listen to him tell me he loves me again.

Mom looks at me finally. Her lips compress and flatten like it’s hard for her to even look at me. “You can’t go back to school.”

“What? I don’t—”

“Let me finish.” She takes a breath like she’s preparing to dive into deep waters. “You’ve been uninvited.” Her lip curls at this last bit. Everton Academy never expels students. They “uninvite.” As though the gentle euphemism could mask the reality of what being uninvited means.

I slide a step back. My hip bumps into a table holding an assortment of framed family photos. One hits the floor with a loud crack. I don’t even move to pick it up. Shaking my head, I whisper, “Why?”

It’s Dad who responds, his voice biting deep with the words that will change everything forever. “You have the kill gene.”

U.S. Department of Justice * The Federal Bureau of Investigation * Criminal Justice Information Reporting Division

*HTS testing yet to become protocol in many state-level jurisdictions

**HTS testing fully realized at every state-level jurisdiction

Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan
Genre: Young Adult (Dystopian/Romance)
Date Published: February 24, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen

Unleashed, the romantic, high-stakes sequel to New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan's Uninvited, is perfect for fans of James Patterson's Confessions of a Murder Suspect.

Davy has spent the last few months trying to come to terms with the fact that she tested positive for the kill gene HTS (also known as Homicidal Tendency Syndrome). She swore she would not let it change her, and that her DNA did not define her . . . but then she killed a man.

Now on the run, Davy must decide whether she'll be ruled by the kill gene or if she'll follow her heart and fight for her right to live free. But with her own potential for violence lying right beneath the surface, Davy doesn't even know if she can trust herself.

Unleashed is the second book in the Uninvited series by Sophie Jordan. Things definitely aren't any easier for Davy and her new friends. In fact, they get decidedly worse. I didn't read the blurb before I started reading this one. I just wanted to know what happened next and started reading away. So, to say I was surprised when Caden entered the picture would be an understatement. It was one of those "Noooooooo!" in slow motion kind of moments. I really didn't want this to be a love triangle. And really, I don't think I'd call it much of a love triangle after all. I'll be honest, I held a little grudge towards Caden through the "getting to know  you" stage, but my feelings towards him changed the more I got to know him. There are so many reasons why I'm Team Caden, but the big one is because of the role he plays in Davy's emotional healing and acceptance of herself. Those parts were truly beautiful. I wanted to bonk Davy on the head so many times while reading... I lost count. I'm not sure if there's supposed to be another book coming, but this one wrapped things up nicely, which is another thing I wasn't expecting, but really liked. I thought Davy was going to play more of a role in the whole revolution aspect, but this story wasn't really about that at all, and I'm glad. We've had Hunger Games and Divergent for those kinds of stories. Unleashed is about an average girl. She's not this big, bad hero. She's just trying to survive. She's the girl we can relate to. She's the girl most of us would be if something like this were to happen in real life. I was pleasantly surprised with this story, and definitely recommend it.

Check out my reviews of this authors other books!

Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she's also the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Avon historical romances. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she's not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows. Sophie also writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler.

To learn more about Sophie Jordan and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

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