Breaking Free - Alicia McCalla I discovered this author a while back before my sister and I even had a blog dedicated to diverse books. I was in search of whatever I could find on black, latino or asian themed science fiction and I was delighted when I discovered her website/blog dedicated to Science Fiction for People of color. Judging my the cover and title, they were both big motivators for me purchasing this book. I'm just a girl that grew up in an urban setting so I thought the model on the cover really spoke to me. She's rockin big hoop earrings and micro braids and her eyes are glowing "Hella fierce". I'm just really captivated my Breaking Free's cover. The book follows XJ Patterson in an alternate universe where there are "humans" and then there are another breed of humans referred to as GEP'S(Genetically Enhanced Person). GEP's have special abilities(think Kyle XY meets Heroes meets X-Men) and of course are looked down upon for being different. Now add class, race and "designation type"(a type of selection process I believe) and you have tons of conflict. XJ is a GEP. All she wants to be is a normal teen. Her mother, a revolutionary, wants her to discover her greatness and help against the fight for getting more rights for GEP's. All she wants is for her mom to be a normal, loving, nurturing mom but her mom is too deep in this life and she wants XJ to understand the importance of this stand.I liked XJ. Her voice was really relatable. I also liked how she was described as beautiful despite not fitting the typical person of color black girl in books(e.g bi racial, light skinned, curly or non kinky hair) The way she was described was very uplifting to girls who actually like being curvy, total opposite to the waifs you usually read about in YA books.She seemed to be really independent but in result she was closed off to fully accepting her love interest Brandon as a potential boyfriend. I know she wasn't "that" kind of girl, but I would have liked to see her more open with her sexuality. Other than that, I totally loved her!Another character was her stepsister named Heather. She reminded me of another Heroes character, Niki Sanders(Ali Larter's character) Heather had dual personalities and was a complete basket case , but I believe she was meant to be. Her "good" side was kind, nurturing and was in love with a girl. Her "bad" side was an arrogant little rich girl who was obsessed with Brandon, whom both her and XJ were linked to. When her bad personality was present she was just crazy!Like "bust the windows out you car" crazy! She was really manipulative and seemed to hate XJ. When she was "good" she was likable, but when her bad personality fought through she was very villainous. I'm wondering how her character will fan out.And then there's her love interest Brandon who is also a GEP. He had abilities similar to Micah Sanders from Heroes, as he was able to communicate with technology. He was rich, white and a revolutionary. Fighting the oppression of GEP's seemed important to him despite him being a privileged GEP, I liked him. He seemed to like XJ a lot, but I wasn't a fan of him letting Heather manipulate him. Especially when he claimed to have liked XJ so much, It was like he thought giving into Heather's demands wouldn't look unfavorable to XJ. But I liked him overall. I would have liked to see more scenes between him and XJ. There were a lot with him and Heather, and she was a complete nut case. Brandon's voice seemed real for a guy. He talked about his sexuality a lot and that's pretty normal for a guy his age.I thought some of the writing put an emphasis on race more than I liked. With Fantasy, race doesn't always have to make a huge impact on the story, but the characters specifically XJ and Heather called each other racist names. Which was weird because Heather's stepdad was XJ's dad, and she never called him any racial slurs, so she seemed to use racism as a weapon to hurt XJ.There was also some issues I had with the world building. Some facts were clear to me while others weren't. I may have missed where "designation type" was explained, but I couldn't remember if it was explained. I translated it to be a natural selective mating process, but I wasn't always sure. The pacing was very good though, a great use of conflict and a nice blend of action sequences. Some of the writing came off as "telling" instead of "showing", but overall I got wrapped into XJ's journey as well as Heather's crazy behind's and Brandon's. I can't wait to read the next book!Rating :3.75