Friday, August 6, 2010
Keller is being trained as a tracker – a defender of the society. It’s one of the most prestigious assignments because it means likely avoiding the burden of being impregnated and used as a breeder. Every day is the same monotonous brainwashing and chores, until one day, a fellow tracker trainee, Laing, takes Keller to a hidden stash of objects from “before”. Laing’s growing obsession with the fashion magazines and make-up she finds there causes her to become increasingly rebellious. And Keller has to make up her mind – is her loyalty to individuals or does she have a greater responsibility to the collective?
As far the plot goes, I definitely get the sense that the girls were going to get caught at some point, but other than that, I really had no idea what to expect. That suspense kept me glued to the page despite there being more far more introspection than action.
Although I did appreciate the careful world building, a lot of it felt stereotypically dystopian and therefore not too surprising. More surprising is Keller, who really is quite an atypical choice for main character in a YA dystopia. Keller’s personality and attitudes have been shaped by her warped society far more than she’d care to admit. She’s hard and rough, and she’s the go-to girl when it comes to the difficult jobs like shooting animals that have outlived their usefulness. In fact, she does seem to have prominent similarities to the society’s tyrannical leader, Ms. Windsor. She is conflicted about her role in the events of the story to a degree, but it felt to me that circumstances rather than her own choices were what dictated her actions and their consequences. Considering where she ends up at the end, it’s a fair question to ask which side Keller is really on, and that’s pretty unusual and thought-provoking.
I did feel that the gender role issues brought up could have been explored in more depth. Some of the scenes seemed to be saying that if you give a pretty girl a dress and some make-up, she’s going to turn into a bitchy queen bee, which fell flat for me.
All in all, a novel well worth reading, so I bestow upon it 3 Zombie Chickens. I’m definitely looking forward to the possible sequel.
Come back later today when I have an interview with Lesley about the novel!
See an index of all dystopian reviews at Presenting Lenore