Young Adult Novel That Explores Themes Common To Science Fiction
Jun 16, 2014
Logan’s Run. The Hunger Games. The Island. What do those titles have in common? First, they’re science fiction. Second, as science fiction, they each tinker in the world of tomorrow where the ruling elite are engaging in some nefarious behavior right under everyone else’s collective noses. Third – and this is essentially what’s most important to those of us either reading or watching from the outskirts – once the mask comes off and the jig is up, that’s when the real story starts. Why? Because conflict is required at the core of any good dystopian novel in order to maintain the interest of the audience.
The conflict does show up in Ashley Quigley’s BREEDERS. It might not be as clear as early on as one would hope; but those reading closely will see that something a bit darker and a bit more sinister is waiting around the corner for these characters.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or character. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last two paragraphs for my final, unblemished assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
To her utter shock and confusion, young Ariet has been taken away from her parents. As fate would have it, she carries within her twenty-year-old body a recessed gene that the world’s elders desire to be made dominant. Paired up with Mason – a child of the elite with the same genetic condition – she is to begin the process of breeding an infant who can be raised by the scientists tasked with saving mankind from extinction. But a turn of events will put Ariet and her unborn son marked for termination, leaving the woman with only the most dangerous alternative: flee the city before they strike her down!
BREEDERS heavily dabbles with ideas not all that far from today’s headlines as author Quigley shows us a world only now starting to fully recover from nearly being wiped out from illness. She introduces a surviving society of classes – the commoners are kept sheltered away but properly cared for in quadrants while those with the best genes live with greater luxury inside a heavily walled city. Her heroine, Ariet, serves as the catalyst to spur particular tale into gear – the realization of her own secret genetic gifts – and because she’s from common stock her eyes are perhaps those best skilled for us to experience this world.
The story is told in first person – a narrative technique many critics love to punch the stuffing out of for reasons I’ve never quite grasped – and I personally found it mostly effective given the personal nature of Ariet’s reflections: she forcibly paired up with Mason – a young man she’s never met – and ordered to procreate. After being torn away from her own family, science decrees she must start one all of her own; add to that the emotional complexity of birthing a son who might be the thematic equivalent of a ‘savior’ to his kind, and what better way to keep those feelings in perspective without giving readers the birds’ eye view?
Granted, there are a few turn of events that transpire here which smack of more theatricality than necessary (i.e. Mason turns out to be a bit of a rebel without a cause; Thor is too closely associated with a certain Marvel hero; Mother Creator is more ‘Mother Superior’ and far too coldly critical to be seen as a benevolent force in this world). Still, BREEDERS moves with an almost clinical efficiency from start-to-kinda/sorta-finish; the readers are left hanging with a big finish and an epilogue that doesn’t answer any of the big questions but instead hints at big things to come when audiences return for part 2. Now, yes, that smacked of more commercial set-up than anything else … but I did find the world interesting enough to show up and find out where all of this might wind up.
Lastly – and only because I’m a stickler for things – this novel has a fair number of typographical errors. There was nothing that rose to the level of dramatically pulling me out of the experience; still, I thought it worth mentioning as that’s the kind of guy I am.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Seriously, I don’t read all that many young adult novels. It isn’t that I dislike them; rather, it’s just that I haven’t been all that intrigued with the ones I have seen through to their finish. However, Ashley Quigley’s BREEDERS held my interest after a slow set-up as the author introduced me to a world of tomorrow that looks and behaves much like those same worlds of tomorrow with which I’ve found some intrigue. As this is the first part of a trilogy, who knows where it’ll go? For now, I’ll be interested in seeing where it’s headed.