Review: Gutter Child

Title: Gutter Child
Author: Jael Richardson
Genre: Fiction, Dystopian
Publisher: HarperAvenue
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A fierce and illuminating debut from FOLD founder Jael Richardson about a young woman who must find the courage to determine her own future and secure her freedom

Set in an imagined world in which the most vulnerable are forced to buy their freedom by working off their debt to society, Gutter Child uncovers a nation divided into the privileged Mainland and the policed Gutter. In this world, Elimina Dubois is one of only 100 babies taken from the Gutter and raised in the land of opportunity as part of a social experiment led by the Mainland government.

But when her Mainland mother dies, Elimina finds herself all alone, a teenager forced into an unfamiliar life of servitude, unsure of who she is and where she belongs. Elimina is sent to an academy with new rules and expectations where she befriends Gutter children who are making their own way through the Gutter System in whatever ways they know how. When Elimina’s life takes another unexpected turn, she will discover that what she needs more than anything may not be the freedom she longs for after all.

Richardson’s Gutter Child reveals one young woman’s journey through a fractured world of heartbreaking disadvantages and shocking injustices. Elimina is a modern heroine in an altered but all too recognizable reality who must find the strength within herself to forge her future and defy a system that tries to shape her destiny.

Review:

The nation is divided into the wealthy Mainland and the policed Gutter. Elimina was taken from her mother in the Gutter and raised in the Mainland. She didn’t get to live a privileged life because her adopted mom was always protecting her from the prejudices of the Mainland. After her mother dies, Elimina is sent to an Academy where she will be trained for a life of servitude. Elimina was raised on the Mainland so she doesn’t fit in with the other Gutter children in the Academy, which is further enforced when she gets put in a position of power in the school. Then, Elimina’s life takes an unexpected turn that leads her back to the Gutter. She must find the strength to keep going and stand up to the injustices that she faces.

This was a coming of age story set in a dystopian that has roots in history. Elimina had a youthful innocence when she arrived at the Academy. She hadn’t had much experience with people from the Gutter, even though that was where she was born. She is suddenly forced to grow up after her mom dies and she meets friends with horrific backgrounds. The story takes place over a couple of years, but Elimina has to become an adult during those years.

This story had strong themes of systematic racism and slavery. The children were purchased by employers and had to work off their debt to society to earn their freedom. However, most people didn’t ever earn that freedom no matter how hard they worked. Elimina was right between the Gutter and the Mainland since she grew up on the Mainland but was born in the Gutter. She had experience in the Mainland but she didn’t know much about the Gutter despite being born there. Elimina was in a unique position to bridge the gap between the two societies.

Many parts of this story were difficult to read. Some possible content triggers are racism, abuse, rape, death in childbirth, and suicide. Though these are difficult things to read about, they are part of the history of racism that this story was about. It’s important to read stories like this to learn how to change in the future.

This is a beautiful debut from Jael Richardson, the founder of the Festival of Literary Diversity!

Thank you HarperCollins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Centaur’s Wife by Amanda Leduc

Have you read Gutter Child? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Day Zero (Day Zero Duology #1)

Title: Day Zero (Day Zero Duology #1)
Author: Kelly deVos
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller, Dystopian
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 12, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for? 

Review:

This is an amazing dystopian story!

The story was fast paced and thrilling. The action started right away, with a terrorist attack on multiple banks following an election in the United States in the future.

Unlike other dystopian books, this book doesn’t seem like it’s set too far in the future. The terrorist attack that sparks the problems in Jinx’s life are very realistic. The political world with two warring parties is also familiar in today’s world. This made the story much more tense, knowing that it is a real possibility for the future.

I thought there would be more coding and technical references to the story. The entire event started with a coded program, but I thought there would be more of Jinx playing the online game she liked. Hopefully that will come in the next book.

I loved this book and I can’t wait to read the next one!

Thank you Inkyard Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil #1) by Emily Suvada

Fat Girl on a Plane by Kelly deVos

Author Info:

KELLY DEVOS is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time” by Reader’s Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins.

Kelly’s work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.

Have you read Day Zero? What did you think of it?

Review: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)

Title: The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1)
Author: Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 14, 2008
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don’t live to see the morning?

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she is forced to represent her district in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before – and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Collins delivers equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this searing novel set in a future with unsettling parallels to our present.

Review:

I’ve finally read this book, eleven years after it was published! I wanted to catch up on the series so I can read the upcoming book next year.

This is one of the few books that I’ve read the book AFTER watching the movie. I usually read the book first, so I get so much more out of the movie. I wish I had read this book first. Since this book is told in first person perspective from Katniss’s point of view, there are lots of her thoughts that can’t be portrayed in a movie. I understood a lot more of what happened in the movie after reading the book.

I’m curious to see what happens in the next book! I don’t remember what happened in the second movie, so it will be a bit of a surprise.

What to read next:

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins

Shatter Me (Shatter Me #1) by Tahereh Mafi

Have you read The Hunger Games? What did you think of it?