Title: The Culling
Author: Steven dos Santos
Release Date: March 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux Books
Lucian "Lucky" Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known at the Establishment 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, his four-year-old brother Cole. Lucky will do anything to keep his brother alive. What he isn't prepared for is the undeniable attraction to the handsome and rebellious Digory Tycho. While they train together, their relationship grows, but daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly.
The Culling is brutal and deadly, a dangerous world controlled by a murderous government hiding behind a mask of righteousness. Lucian will have to fight, fight with everything he is, fight for everything he has, and hope it's enough to keep those he loves alive at the end.
Everything Lucian does is for Cole. Everything. He's all he has left, and so every sacrifice must be made. He just never expected to make this sacrifice, to be forced to leave him and train in order to return and fight for both of their lives. Then comes Digory, igniting a spark between the two of them, Digory who helps Lucian as much as he can, and Lucian ends up a little torn between him and his brother. There's also Lucian's past friendship with Cassius, the new prefect for the city. Something happened between them, something in the past before the book started, and I'm very curious as to what it was.
In any dystopian, there will be secrets the ruling group is trying to hide. There will be threats of physical harm and death. There will be those who choose to rise up and fight back and those who crumble under the massive weight of the world. In order to connect with readers, there must be strength in the characters but also weakness. Lucian is battered and bruised, especially after going through what he has, but he still pushes on.
It's not every day that I come across a dystopian YA where the main character is gay, or where a different male character has a husband and all of the surprise stems from the fact that he's already married and not that his spouse is a man. It gives a different sort of glimpse into the world the author has crafted. Yes, it's brutal, lethal, and razor sharp at all the edges, but apparently it's a world where people can marry within their gender and not be discriminated against.
Now, this book is similar to The Hunger Games, rather similar, but that being said I found it different enough to be interesting, to hold my attention right to the end. So many questions are left unanswered at the end, and so now I'm left waiting for the next book.
(I received an e-galley of this book to review from Flux through NetGalley.)