Blog Tour Excerpt: THE KEY TO FEAR by Kristin Cast

Genre: Dystopia
Age Range: YA
Series: yes - first book


Elodie obeys The Key. Elodie obeys the rules. Elodie trusts in the system. At least, Elodie used to…

Aidan is a rebel. Aidan doesn’t do what he’s told. Aidan just wants to be free. Aidan is on his last chance…

After a pandemic wiped out most of the human race, The Key took power. The Key dictates the rules. They govern in order to keep people safe. But as Elodie and Aidan begin to discover there is another side to The Key, they realise not everything is as it seems.

Rather than playing protector, The Key are playing God.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.

About the Author:

Women sits with face on c

Kristin Cast is a #1 USA Today bestselling author and has spent over 150 weeks on the NYT bestseller list, peaking at #1. She was born on an Air Force base in Japan and grew up in Oklahoma where she explored everything from tattoo modelling to broadcast journalism. After battling addiction, Kristin made her way to the Pacific Northwest and landed in Portland. She rediscovered her passion for storytelling in the stacks at dusty bookstores and in rickety chairs in old coffeehouses. For as long as she can remember, Kristin’s been telling stories. Thankfully, she’s been writing them down since 2005.

Find her on twitter, instagram, or her website.

Today I have an extract for you that introduces my favourite of the two leads, Aiden – and he’s found himself in trouble. Again.


Aiden’s boots were dirty. He didn’t know how it happened, or where, but he knew if anyone at the Key Corp MediCenter saw, they’d tack the noncompliance to the end of the Shit You’ve Done Wrong So Far Today list. And, although the sun had barely taken its position in the sky, he knew that list was already a mile long.

“Let me get this straight.” Dr. Cath Scott paused to remove a nearly invisible speck of lint from the crisp sleeve of her tailored blouse. The soft wrinkles on the back of her ivory hands told the story of her more than fifty years better than any other part of her. Though if Aiden tilted his head and squinted just right, he could catch a glimpse of the lines feathering around the corners of her kind eyes. “You decided that simply not showing up to your designated workplace was the right thing to do because you…” Dr. Scott paused, flicking her fingers across her holopad as she scrolled through Aiden’s most recent disciplinary action sheet. “And I quote, ‘don’t like the job.’”

Aiden closed one eye, then the other, back and forth, back and forth, making her form shift ever so slightly. He’d sat in Dr. Scott’s office in the same stiff plastic chair, an arm’s length from the rounded edges of her sparkling white desk, and had a version of this conversation more times than he could count. Mornings were his favorite time to get called in, when the sun crested the tall buildings of downtown Westfall and its brilliant beams reflected off the iconic pale pink tower across the street from the MediCenter. Dr. Scott’s wall of windows provided the best view in the entire building. Maybe that was why she remained pleasant even though they continued to meet like this. Aiden would remain pleasant, too, if each morning he was bathed in gentle magnolia light.

The rays seeped through the towering windows, staining Dr. Scott’s mane of blond curls. “What were you thinking?” She squinted, and those thin lines around her eyes flashed to life.

The zippers lining Aiden’s black synthetic-wool coat scraped against the chair as he shrugged and slouched a bit lower. “Like you said, it was simple. And yeah, I don’t like it. Babysitting surgical bots is boring. They’re bots. Get better engineers if their bots are so shitty that they need looking after.”

“Ai-den.” Dr. Scott accentuated each syllable before pursing her lips.

He slouched a little lower.

With a labored sigh, she continued to scroll though his seemingly unending file. “Aiden, you’re in my office at least once a month.”

He brushed his fingers across his full lips, hiding a mischievous upturn of his mouth.

She set down the holopad and tented her fingers. “I’m running out of ways to punish you that aren’t…harsh.” A silent threat lingered behind the word.

His gaze washed over the pink building and the MediCenter’s reflection trapped in its windows like the two were locked in a staring contest. Aiden didn’t bother wondering which would win. The MediCenter would. The Key always won. His toes clenched in his boots. “Be harsh. I can handle it.”

Again, Dr. Scott’s thin lips tightened. “This is serious. If certain people were to get wind of the fact that you’ve been bouncing around from career to career, you would end up in Rehabilitation.”

Each muscle in Aiden’s back stiffened. “I haven’t really been bouncing around.” He straightened and slid to the edge of his seat. “I’m trying to figure some stuff out, but I’ve stayed within the same career, more or less—”

Dr. Scott pushed the holopad across her desk. The transparent screen lit up, blue-tinged white and black text came into focus. “You’ve trained as an anesthesiologist, a surgical core technician, a long-term patient care tech, a short-term patient care tech, in the pharmacology department, the behavioral health department, as well as medi-bot maintenance, cancer research…the list goes on and on.” And it did. So much so that the last line was partially blurred by the bottom of the screen.

Instead, Aiden sat back in his chair and propped his ankle on his knee. “Yeah, but is it really hopping if I’m staying in the same field?”

“Yes!” With a jolt of exasperation, Dr. Scott tossed her finely manicured hands in the air. “And of course you’re staying in the same field. Your tests revealed an aptitude for the medical sciences. We know this is where you’ll thrive.”

He sagged again, plopping his elbows against the plastic armrests. “Maybe I don’t want to have a career yet. Is that some-thing your tests took into consideration?”

Dr. Scott swept the holopad back to its place in front of her.

“You are almost eighteen. People your age have been in their assigned career for years and are racing to the top of their field, not dillydallying, trying to figure some stuff out.” Dr. Scott adjusted the row of styluses on her desk until they were all parallel with the edge. “Aiden, there’s nothing to figure out. It’s better to follow the path chosen for you, and the Key has made it simple. I have made it simple. And Rehab—”

Aiden lurched forward. “You know I don’t need Rehabilitation.” He scrubbed a hand along the smooth undercut lining his mohawk’s tight curls. “I can’t go. I won’t. Put me in whatever career field you want. I’ll stay with it.”

Dr. Scott’s thick brows lifted, deepening the creases just below her hairline.

“I swear.” And he meant it.

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