Shadow Mountain Publishing
Published October 14,2014
Trade paperback, 304 pages
Male or Female?
Nine is the ninth female born in her batch of ten females and ten males. By design, her life in Freedom Province is without complications or consequences. However, such freedom comes with a price. The Prime Maker is determined to keep that price a secret from the new batches of citizens that are born, nurtured, and raised androgynously.
But Nine isn’t like every other batcher. She harbors indecision and worries about her upcoming Remake Day—her seventeenth birthday, the age when batchers fly to the Remake facility and have the freedom to choose who and what they’ll be.
When Nine discovers the truth about life outside of Freedom Province, including the secret plan of the Prime Maker, she is pulled between two worlds and two lives. Her decisions will test her courage, her heart, and her beliefs. Who can she trust? Who does she love? And most importantly, who will she decide to be?
I've been waiting to read this book since I heard about it at BookExpo America. I let my daughter read it first and she finished it quite quickly. A good sign since she lingers with books that don't grab her from the very beginning. Lately I've been reading more YA and especially dystopian novels, and my daughter who is now 13 discovered this genre and she loves it. So this was the perfect escapism book for both me and my daughter. Like her I devoured it quite quickly too. And we both felt the same way about it, which is interesting because she is a teenager and I'm, well... a lot older!
Nine's world is quite different from any other dystopian world we've read because there are no families and children are raised in batches with hormone suppressants so that they do not develop physically until they reach age 17 and are sent to the Remake facility where they can decide what gender and occupation they would like. The hormone suppression reminded me of The Giver. It took some getting used to reading about teenagers who were more like younger children because they were underdeveloped. But Todd does a good job of convincing the reader as we get immersed in the story. Their innocence was refreshing.
I had some questions about how Freedom Province actually came to be and the daily life in that place. We get a glimpse of it when Nine and her best friend Theron go for a night out, but I would have like to know more. My daughter felt the same way. When a terrible accident on their way to the Remake facility separate Nine and Theron, with Nine washing up on the shores of an island, things change drastically for Nine.
She has to deal with loss and with the sudden changes in her body as she starts to mature physically. (Teens can definitely relate to that! I even remember those puberty changes.) She meets an actual family and learns about the roles of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, things she knows nothing about. The message that family is important and essential came across beautifully in this novel. The descriptions of island life and teamwork contrasted well with the controlled and narcissistic atmosphere of Freedom.
Nine also experiences love for a boy in a way she never knew before. I don't mind a little romance in a dystopian novel, but both my daughter and I felt that the romance was a little too heavy and that at times it overpowered the dystopian plot line. We weren't aware that there is a sequel to this novel so that the ending left us feeling like her decision was not made in the right way. We were both a little stunned. Not by her choices, but how she made those choices. About why she did not share her new-found knowledge. However, if we felt that way, clearly it's because we got so immersed in Nine's world and wondered if there was more to come. The answer is yes. So now we have to patiently wait for the second book to see how the rebellion will come about, what role Nine has in it, and how this will affect her relationships.
If you like dystopian novels with romance, pick this one up. It's different enough and will immerse you in its story. My daughter and I loved how it kept us wondering what would happen next. Todd skilfully introduced twists to the story when least expected. We look forward to the next installment!
Note: This book is rated V = minor violence. There is a scene where a character gets beat up and another where Nine witnesses cruel acts from the Freedom police. No bad language or sex scenes, just kissing.
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Reviewed by Laura and Daughter
Disclosure: Thanks to the publisher for sending us this book for review. We were not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.
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