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I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for this honest review. Check out the bottom of this post after you have read my review and enter a giveaway for signed copies of Breeder!
I love a good dystopian story, and Breeder did not disappoint. The first part, when Seventeen/Pria was living in the Sanctuary, reminded me of Brave New World/The Giver/1984. The second part reminded me of the Matrix movies, when they were living underground.
Breeder is set in the future, where the Unified World Order has set rules for everyone to live by, rules for propagation of the human race, and specific boundaries that everyone abide by. Only the genetically perfect can Breed, and they are considered “better” than others and treated as such. Breeders live in Sanctuary, and their duty is to Carry and create life. Their routine is carefully planned out, their diet and vitamins meticulously calculated, and as Seventeen/Pria tells herself, “My life is perfect”.
One day, as she is waking up from an unknown procedure, she comes in contact with an Enforcer, who asks her what her name is. This is forbidden, and she is suspicious. However, she is unsure if she dreamed this, since the Enforcer (whose name is Pax) is a man, and there are no men allowed inside Sanctuary. As time goes by, she becomes depressed and wonders when she will be able to Carry again. (Conjecture: her unknown procedure was an abortion and she is having an emotional reaction due to abrupt hormonal changes.) The encounter with Pax stays with her, and she is naturally curious – a trait discouraged in Sanctuary. She asks questions here and there, and this comes to the attention of Mother, the leader of Sanctuary and the Breeding Program. Seventeen/Pria must fight for her life, as the world that she knows and loves turns against her.
The second part of the book take place in a desolate, hostile environment, and there is suspense and some great characters to hate. Pria (no longer Seventeen) finds herself reviled by some and viewed as a means to an end by others. As her knowledge of what the UWO has done, she becomes confused and realizes just how naive she has been. It takes a really long time for her character to develop, but Pria truly comes into her own towards the end.
There is also a twist that I didn’t see coming, that made my jaw drop. It may be a cliche, but it was well utilized to further the story. No spoilers here–you need to read it for yourself.
The story seemed to be coming to an abrupt ending, and just as I was wondering how things were going to wind up, I found out that it was a cliffhanger and this is the first book in a trilogy. AAAUUGGHHH! I’m not a big fan of the “multiple books” thing that is prevalent now, but this is no knock against the author. I’m not hating the player, just the game. Apparently I, along with a lot of Hoyle’s fan base, will be anxiously awaiting Criminal, the second book.
There really wasn’t anything to dislike about Breeder: the characters were multi layered, the dystopian world well thought out and described to a T, and almost all of the scenes were believable. This is not an overly scientific novel, and is a smooth read.
Here is an excerpt; Pax and Pria are on the run and have found a hiding place. Night has arrived and they are working out a plan for keeping watch overnight:
Silence, heavy and thick, falls between us. Awkwardness seems to creep up at unexpected times, and I wonder if it is always this way between women and men. I never felt awkward with any of my sisters, but whatever this is between Pax and me has a different feel to it.
“Anyway,” he says. “I sat against the wall over there.” He nods to an intact wall dividing the cabin into two spaces. “It’s not the warmest spot, but it gives you a good view of the access points without making you visible from the outside. Take this.” He hands me the Enforcer helmet.
“Okay.” I pick my way around the broken-down furniture and dried leaves. “So I just . . . sit and watch?”
“Keep your weapon ready,” he says. “If anything comes along, crawl over here and wake me up. But don’t worry—dawn is only a few hours off. I never saw anything other than a band of mule deer.”
I nod and settle against the wall, putting the helmet on so I can see. Pax lies down on his back right where I slept and falls almost immediately asleep. I watch his green-tinted chest rise and fall for several minutes before I remember I’m supposed to be watching the “access points,” as Pax called them.
Jagged shards of glass poke out from around the edges of the windows. The doorway gapes at me, a dark yawning hole that looks ominous even in the green glow of the helmet visor. A set of glowing green eyes outlined by a furry form with pointed ears stops outside the cabin and looks at me. Another coyote. I train my Air-5 on it and hold my breath, but it loses interest and moves on, its nose to the ground. I let out my breath. Hopefully that will be all the wildlife I see tonight.
Pax was right, it isn’t the warmest spot, but the cold air actually helps me to stay awake. Temperature, along with food and sleep, was highly regulated in Sanctuary so we never had to feel uncomfortable. As I think longingly about my warm bed in the dormitory, my head grows heavy and nods toward my chest. I jerk upright and stand to pace. I wonder how much time has passed.
Pax doesn’t even stir once in his sleep, but his eyes move beneath his eyelids. He must be having vivid dreams, like me. I suppose if his life has been as tumultuous as he’s painted it, he must have plenty to haunt his dreams.
How did I get here, pacing in the dark and cold in a structure well over a hundred years old with a weapon in my hand and meat in my stomach?
Just thinking about my stomach makes it growl, and I look around for the cook pot. It’s sitting on the hearth next to the embers of the fire, and I hope it’s still a little warm.
I pick my way over to it, stepping over Pax’s legs to reach it. Then I squat and lift the pot to my lips, testing the heat of the metal against them before taking a drink. It’s cool enough to touch, and I take several sips. The meaty flavor is still strange, but somehow satisfying.
Pax grabs my ankle, and I jump, spilling the broth.
“I’m . . . fifteen,” he says. “Fifteen . . .”
His eyes are closed and roving around beneath his freckled lids, making his golden lashes dance. I think he’s talking in his sleep.
“I know,” I say. “You told me you’re Enforcer Fifteen.”
“Fifteen,” he mumbles again. “Is . . . my . . . number.” His grip relaxes and his hand falls to the floor.
I let out a careful breath and carry what remains of the broth back to my spot against the wall. I’m not sure what that was all about, but I’d rather be out of his reach for now.
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Release Date: December 11 , 2014
Genre: Fiction: Dystopian
ISBN e-book: 978-1-61213-292-1
Everything about Seventeen’s life is perfect, from her genetics, to her home in Sanctuary, to her status as a Breeder in the Unified World Order. But all that changes when she meets a rogue Enforcer named Pax, who infiltrates Sanctuary and targets her for extraction from the Controlled Repopulation Program. Pax seems to know a little too much about her, and he plants dangerous doubts in her mind that accuse Sanctuary of hiding a dark secret, and that cause Seventeen to question everything she’s ever known.
When Seventeen’s life is threatened, she has little choice but to run away from Sanctuary with Pax. But for Breeders, contact with men is forbidden by law, and even the simple act of taking Pax’s hand is treason.
Mired in confusion, Seventeen travels with Pax to the outside world and takes the name Pria, the identity of her childhood. But she is far from certain she’s made the right decision when they discover an entire community of people who should no longer exist.
Seventeen, now Pria, is thrust into a position as a key player in a dangerous bid to bring down the Unified World Order. Meanwhile, Pax’s attachment to her and her growing attraction to him contribute to the ever-growing mysteries in her life.
Pria’s journey from a sheltered, naïve Breeder to a rebel agent requires not only external transformation but self-discovery. As her world crumbles, Pria must decide who she is and what she really believes.
But the truth comes at a cost, and uncovering it will require a greater treason than she could ever have imagined.
~~ABOUT THE AUTHOR~~
K.B. Hoyle is a bestselling author, a public speaker, a creative writing instructor, and a classical history teacher who uses her knowledge of the ancient and medieval worlds to pen speculative and fantasy tales for people of all ages. She has been married since the age of twenty to the love of her life, with whom she has four wonderful children. Find out more about her at www.kbhoyle.com.
~~CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR~~
Praise for Breeder
"Breeder was anything but a let down. The characters were extremely well written, making me able to empathize with Pria and Pax and the situation they find themselves in. I kept turning the pages because I just had to find out what happened to these people and, to my shock, finished the book in a day! " - Angela Goodreads Review