Author: Honni Van Rijswijk
Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction
Rating: 1 Star (DNF)
Will Meadows is a seemingly average fifteen-year-old Westie, who lives and works in Zone F, the run-down outermost ring of the Corporation. In the future state of the Corp, a person’s value comes down to productivity: the right actions win units, the wrong ones lose them. If Will is unlucky and goes into unit debt, there’s only one place to go: the Rator. But for Zone F Breeders, things are much worse–they’re born into debt and can only accrue units through reproduction.
Every day in Zone F is a struggle, especially for Will who is fighting against time for access to an illegal medical drug, Crystal 8. Under the cover of night, Will travels to the Gray Zone, where life is less regulated and drugs–and people–are exchanged for gold. There, Will meets Rob, a corrupt member of the Corporation running a Breeder smuggling operation. Will also meets Alex, another teen whom he quickly recognizes as a Breeder in disguise.
Suddenly, Will has an illicit job and money, access to Crystal, and a real friend. As the pair grows closer, Alex shares her secret: she is part of the Response, an uprising to overthrow the Corporation. Caught up in the new friendship, Will and Alex become careless as the two covertly travel into Zone B for a day of adventure. Nothing goes as planned and Will’s greatest fear is realized. Will his true identity be revealed?
WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW
I’m going to be honest… I found it extremely difficult to get through this book. In fact, I dropped it at 56% in. The book had an interesting concept and some well-thought-out world-building that I enjoyed, but that’s about where my praise ends.
The opening narrative was stilted and a bit confusing. There was lots of back-telling, poor grammar, a break in the 4th wall that seemed unintentional, and worse, the book was written in present tense… which is just… the worst. I disliked the narrative voice and because the writing was so disjointed and choppy, it was hard to like the characters, let alone empathize with them.
It felt like I was reading a book from the point of view of an alien, pretending to be a human, who had never actually met a human. It was… off and choppy. I didn’t feel engaged or sucked into the story, and I figured out the big “reveal” about the main character before the first three chapters were up.
There are going to be readers out there that appreciate this book for the world-building and the plot – because those things were really well done…. But I appreciate the narrative flow of a book, the atmosphere, and the human struggle – and this book just absolutely butchered those.