Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from The Writer's Coffee Shop via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Seventeen is a breeder, a genetically perfect teenage girl whose only job is to provide healthy “contributions” to the re-population program of the Unified World Order. She leads a peaceful life in the Sanctuary where she wants for nothing and is completely sheltered from the outside world. Then one day she meets Pax, an Enforcer and the first man she has seen since she entered the Sanctuary years earlier. He tells her that her life is a lie and she is in danger. Seventeen, or Pria (the childhood name she reverts to), joins him to escape the sanctuary and discover the secrets behind the world she grew up in.
K. B. Hoyle, author.
Breeder, by K.B. Hoyle, author of the Gateway Chronicles series, is an exciting, action filled young adult science fiction novel. I found it quite un-put-down-able, and my husband commented that it's a sign that the book is good when he has to call me multiple times to put it down and come to dinner. I wanted to find out the secrets behind the UWO just as badly as Pria did.
When Pria and Pax strike out across the countryside looking for a group of rebels to join up with the presence of the “Unfamiliars” who live out in the wild lands adds a sense of menace to the journey. In the tradition of the best monster movies, the Unfamiliars are just hinted at early on, and it's only well into the novel that they are properly described, let alone explained. Pax's past is similarly mysterious as is the true purpose of the UWO and the secret of the door at the end of the corridor in the Sanctuary. The actions of the UWO recall earlier adult dystopian stories like George Orwell's 1984 and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 in a way designed to appeal to younger readers.
It's easy to sympathise with Pria, who is an innocent thrust into a world that she knows next to nothing about. She's so innocent in fact that I found myself getting frustrated by the fact that none of the sympathetic characters she meets outside the Sanctuary take the time to give the poor girl the Birds and the Bees talk. Her journey from an almost mindless, contented breeder to an person able to reason, stand up for herself and make her own decisions is gradual enough to be believable. Unlike the heroines in other dystopian stories like the The Hunger Games Pria has to rely only on her wits and the help of others to survive, since although she is physically strong she has no combat training.
I found Pax a little too mysterious to develop a liking for, but he is a ginger, and as a redhead who constantly hears the myth that redheads are going extinct, it's nice to see my people represented among the “genetically inferior” rebels. As the book points out, you can't just stamp out a gene like that.
Breeder is a dystopian sci fi novel for young adults with a heroine the reader can cheer for. Although many secrets are revealed in the course of the book, by the end of it there are still lots of things that Pria and the reader don't know, which leaves plenty of room for book two, Criminal. I can hardly wait!