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Title: The Culling
Series: The Torch Keeper #1
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Survival Fiction
Publisher: Flux Books
Expected Publication Date: March 8,2013
Review Copy Provided By: Netgalley
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Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die...
For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother.
Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits’ loved ones. What Lucky isn’t prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly..
“Not every story has a happy ending, but that doesn't mean it's not worth telling."- The Culling
That quote sums up perfectly how I feel about The Culling. Sometimes a book comes along that changes your life. Not physically of course but emotionally. The characters in the story holding our emotions hostage even after the story ends. Whether guided by fear or love they make us want to be them or hate them with every turn of the page and actions that they make. Some characters we cheer on hoping they live to see another day and the others... well... what we'd like to see happen to them is probably to kind for what they actually deserve.
The Culling isn't just the title of the book its also the name of the tournament that is the major focal point of the story as well. Five teenagers aged 17 are chosen to participate. If you win you get a job as part of The Establishments Imposer Task force. On the other hand, If you lose..... well lets just say it doesn't pay to be the loser.
When 17 year old Lucian Spark is chosen as a recruit his 4 year old brother and kindly neighbor Mrs. Bledsoe are put up as his incentives. What are incentives you ask? If you come in last during The Culling or fail to complete a task The Establishment makes you kill one of your incentives as punishment. Each recruit has two and only one will make it through with both intact. To make matters worse, they don't discriminate on age or gender. You might have to kill your mother, father, husband, lover or in Lucian's case his little brother. Everyone is fair game when it comes to The Culling.
I really thought the trials during The Culling were a neat process even if they made me squirm quite a bit. I don't want to give away what happens but some of the incentive deaths were quite horrible to witness and others well I may never recover emotionally from those scenes.
While the story was great its the characters that made me fall in love with this series. I loved Lucian he was everything I love in a Main Protagonist and then some. I really wanted him to win even though I knew to do so would mean the deaths of many others along the way. I also really liked Cypress she was a bad ass chick and I really felt for her predicament. Really though, each character was extremely well written and I enjoyed reading each scene even if I wasn't particularly happy with the direction those characters went in. I'm looking at you Ophelia.
Now, I'm usually not a fan of the romantic elements in Dystopians as they sometimes overtake the story. That being said, the romance in The Culling is extremely well done. Instead of hindering the story, it enhanced it. First off, while it shouldn't matter some people may be put off from reading the book due to the unconventional main couple. Why is that you ask? Well,the main couple is Gay. Does that matter? Not one bit. I loved both main males and was totally a fan of the pairing. The love story is sweet,simple and reserved never quite coming to fruition due to the situation both were in. By the end my feelings went into overdrive and I found myself grieving for the couple and their plight. I have hope though no matter how small it might be. The other main couple was a bit more reserved but their relationship while sweet was doomed from the start and unfortunately both characters understood that making it even more heartbreaking.
Overall, I loved this book. The writing, world building, storyline and characters were all great, top notch really. I have no complaints at all. To really drive home how much I enjoyed this book, I went straight to Amazon and bought myself a copy. I know this is a book I'll read again in the near future and one I am eagerly anticipating its sequel. Would I recommend The Culling? Yes, yes, YES!! In fact, stop reading my review and go buy yourself a copy right now. I promise you will not be disappointed. In all honesty if I could rate this book 10 stars I would but since I can't, I will be rating The Culling by Steven Dos Santos ★★★★★. Worth your read, worth the time and definitely worth the money spent to purchase it!