Author: Case Maynard
Publisher: Blaze Publishing
Publishing Date: September 2016
Received: Give by Blaze Publishing, in exchange for an honest review
Our Protagonist, Vera Delancourt reminds me very much of the main character in “The Taming of the Shrew.” She’s ill-mannered, blunt, troublesome, and she is perpetually sticking her foot in her mouth.
Vera was surrendered to “The Tax,” along with her twin brother, Oliver, when she was 10-years-old. “After a 40 year period of unsound financial decisions, a declined worldwide currency, and international social unrest, the world was catapulted into complete devastation and ultimately all government collapsed. The commander decreed that each child under age 18 was to be a taxable commodity, allowing one exception per family the commander ordered parents to pay exorbitant fees for their offspring.”
Vera’s parents, having twins, would have only needed to pay tax on one of them whilst the other was exempt, but before long Vera’s mother was with child, again. Faced with being surrendered Vera refused to see Oliver be surrendered alone, or leave him behind, and was therefore surrendered with him. They have spent six years enslaved to the Master, and the Overseer in the Mills, in which they are enslaved.
Vera, affectionately known as Vee, is a Driver, or head, of the Herb Mill, while her brother is the Driver for the Military/Ammunitions Mill. Meanwhile Oliver works to keep his head down, and do as he’s told, but Vera has always been a hot head, and wouldn’t know how to keep her mouth shut no matter how hard she may try. They have hoped and dreamed that the two of them would age out of the system together, and re-enter society next year when they become of age- together.
Unfortunately, after an unforeseen event takes place at the Mills, Vera flees with two younger girls, Jane, her younger sister whom she never expected to see at the Mills, and Ramsey, a fellow Herbalist, having to leave her brother, Oliver, behind in the mills. They are running for their lives, knowing full well they’ll be killed if caught. Once off the grounds, however, the girls are discovered stowing away in the back of a truck driven by two young men, Cason and Matthew, sons of a Farm Mill owner, John William. Initially fearful that as quick as their run started it has stopped, they find they have stumbled on some of the few people in the world who would dare take them in. John William and his wife Ann instruct the boys to hide the girls underground, lying in wait to travel up North for freedom. (This plot piece sounds a lot like the Underground Railroad to me!) Unfortunately, chaos strikes before their ride ever arrives, and they are thrust into a race to save each other, and Oliver.
This Dystopian novel deals with rape, child slavery, and some realistic depiction of death. It embraces the nastiness of greed, and a broken society that chooses not to revolt against the government to protect their children.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
For this reason I’d easily rate it PG-15. Though Case handles the phraseology of some of these topics quite well, I do still think it’s a bit much for adolescents, therefore I suggest an older audience. A thought provoking novel, that had me clinging to every word, loving every second of Vee and Cason, and dying to know what happens next, this book easily receives five stars. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a GREAT Dystopian.