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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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