Genre: YA Dystopian
Recommended Age: 15+ (trigger warnings: sexual abuse/rape, mature language, and violent death of children).
I received a free copy of this book because I’m a rep of Blaze Publishing. This relationship did not sway my opinion in any manner.
After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource―the children.
Surrendered at age ten―after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees―Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand―a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.
Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination―or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind. – Amazon.com
The only thing I read about this book before reading it was “dystopian” and I was IN! I love dystopian novels and as such I tend to judge them a little heavily on how plausible and realistic they could be and happen. That being said I think this dystopian novel is one of the most unique and plausible possibilities on the topic of world ending discussions. As you can see in the excerpt above, this world came about because of a financial crash which drives taxes on children to become so astronomical that parents are basically forced to give up their children to survive themselves. Another thing I thought was very realistic that I have to give praise for is the realistic treatment of the children in these labor camps. The author did not shy away from or tone down a lot of the possible outcomes these children could face and she does a great job in not making the horror too explicit. There are a ton of other reveals in the story as well that I won’t go into because of spoilers, but each twist and turn feels fresh and new in a genre that is slowly becoming overly saturated. I thought the character development was pretty good as well and the world building phenomenal. The world building is not too lecture-y and it isn’t all explained at once. I also thought the plot development was amazing and allowed for a quick read of this over 300+ page novel, and the pacing was well done as well. It wasn’t too fast or too slow, but it did manage to hold the tension throughout the book.
While I generally loved the book I did feel that some of the character development might feel like it was lacking to some readers and that some of the main characters might not be as well received. While I can see where some of the character development could be considered lacking for some, I felt that this was possibly intentional by the author so that we could have those excellent twists and turns. One of the main themes of this book is trust and this would have been completely lost in the book if the reader knew ahead of time what each character’s motives and drives were beforehand.
Verdict: This book has become one of my favorite dystopian books of all time. I absolutely loved how the author made this world and did away with some of the overdone tropes in the YA dystopian genre. I would suggest if you like dystopian novels to pick up this book. The sequel is out today, so now would be a good time to read this book and then pick up the next!