Disclaimer – I was offered a free copy of this book in return for a fair and unbiased review
‘Elsa’s small feet stumbled across the gnarled tree root, and I grabbed her elbow to steady her. You’d think she’d be more sure-footed after playing around the knotted, decades-old apple tree nearly every day, but her skinned knees and elbows told a different story.’
If genetic engineering could guarantee you and your family perfect health and unparalleled beauty, would you pay top dollar for it? Would you kill for it?
Residents of the Colony would. And do.
Only the Insurgents can stop them.
Seventeen-year-old Asher Solomon is a premier operative with the Insurgents. He and his team have rescued countless hostages, saving them from painful deaths in Colony labs as desirable genetic traits are stripped from their bodies.
He’s also suffered more losses than anyone should have to.
Then Asher gets intel that might give his people the upper hand. The Colony is searching for Subject A36. If the Insurgents determine the subject’s identity first, they might be able to turn the tide of the war.
Asher and his team embark on their riskiest mission ever, and the stakes have never been higher. But even if he survives the physical dangers, the devastating secrets he uncovers might destroy him.
What I thought
There are a lot of teen dystopias out there where the ‘big city’ is using the outsiders or for gain but I’ve not seen any where the outsiders are literally being stripped and dumped. Because that’s what the colony is doing, stripping outsiders down for parts. You have a pretty eye colour – yoink ours now, you’re good at sports – now I am.
It’s a great concept and easy to see how genetic experimenting would reach this point. Getting rid of any genetic diseases is one thing, and then any imperfections, but then there are other options and choices available; being a bit taller, being better at sports, or being emotional, or academics. It’s one thing changing embryos and modifying them but what about the people who are already alive? What if they want that too? So you learn how to modify living DNA but you need to implement the trait that you like. And if you’ve got outsiders and people who don’t take part in your society? Why wouldn’t you use them? It’s not going to hurt your society, it’s only going to help.
I mean if you’re part of the outsiders that sucks but thank you for donating…
One of the things I found reading this is that it’s a really slow start, a really slow start.
It starts with Asher as a kid and his sisters, it’s a great way of introducing this world as one of his sisters has to paint her hair when they leave the house as it’s too nice and people will want it. And hair colour is such a minor thing, because we know that hair dye is available but it’s not enough. It’s a great way of showing just how warped this society is. Then they are discovered and Asher has to run for fear of them finding him and stripping him down to his genetic components – which is a big fear for an 8 year old. And when he’s unable to run with his sisters and have to leave them behind that’s one hell of childhood trauma and something that is not going to leave you.
There’s a lot of world building but once it picks up pace it doesn’t stop. It just keeps going, and the action scenes are insane and feel like they belong in a film. It’s not quite Captain America pulling at a helicopter but it’s close.
Throughout this book the main theme for me is one of relationships being what makes us who we are; friendships, family, romance. All of it together makes us human and more than just our DNA. The relationship between Asher and Brynn is the most obvious one she pulls him back from the brink multiple time and is a touchstone for him, keeping him on the track that he wants to be on and he does the same for her. There’s so much pressure on them to try and rescue people from the donation centres and to try and stop the colony as much as possible. They go through a lot and having someone they can lean on and give them strength when needed.
Why I read it
I was offered a free copy for review but I was interested because of the concept of genetic engineering and stripping genetic traits for others.
Besides the slow start I really enjoyed this book. And I know the slow start is there for a reason, but the idea of ‘Subject A36’ doesn’t turn up till at least a third of the way through. I really enjoyed the relationships within this book and I’d be interested to see how it continues to grow in this series.
It’s a really cinematic book and I really wish I didn’t have afantasia so I could ‘see’ the pictures and not just the words in front of me.
Am I glad I read it? Yes
Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read again? Maybe
Would I recommend? Probably
About the author:
Teri Polen reads and watches horror, sci-fi, and fantasy. The Walking Dead, Harry Potter, and anything Marvel-related are likely to cause fangirl delirium. She lives in Bowling Green, KY with her husband, sons, and black cat. Her first novel, Sarah, a YA horror/thriller, was a horror finalist in the 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Visit her online at http://www.teripolen.com