The Breeder

Blackstone. Jul. 2021. 200p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781094099804.
Gr 9 Up–In the aftermath of a cataclysmic environmental crisis, the Corporation is in total control, and people are valued solely for what they can produce. Boys and men are put to work. Girls are Breeders, forced to act as surrogates, growing and birthing babies for the Corporation. Will is a 15-year-old boy living in the poorest zone of the Corp. He knows his society is inhumane but believes there is no point in resisting an absolute power. When Will’s life falls apart and his secrets are revealed, he realizes passive acceptance is no longer an option. Will is an engaging narrator, irreverent and fatalistic about his lot in life. He naively parrots many of the lies that have been fed to him by the Corp, and readers must discern his reliability in different situations. The themes introduced are intriguing: the dangers of unchecked capitalism, gender identity and the commodification of gender, and the conflict between self-preservation and morality. Despite such an interesting premise, this novel does not fully realize its potential. It often feels rushed, secondary characters are flat, their motivations and actions sometimes illogical, and the worldbuilding is confusing. With a totalitarian regime clearly in the habit of lying to its populace, it is possible that these perceived flaws are actually intentional confusion funneled through the narrator. The effect leaves something to be desired.
VERDICT This dystopian novel poses fascinating questions but rushes their exploration, and is recommended for additional purchase.

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