Author: Karen Sandler
Published: 15th September 2011
By: Lee and Low Books
First line: Kayla hunched on the bank of the Chadi river while below her, Jal, her slender black skinned nurture brother, skipped from one deep pool of the river to another, searching for river toads.
Last Line: Sorry, I think this would be a bit of a spoiler!
Favourite Line: What is it about you, and me, that makes you human and me not?
There seems to be a wide range of books that have a dystopian theme emerging on the YA market at the moment and I have to say I’m enjoying the fresh material that the genre bring to the table. This was why I was particularly keen to read Tankborn by Karen Sandler and I have to say this book absolutely delivers!
The story primarily revolves around two characters, namely, Kayla and Mishalla who come from the same sectors and are best friends. Kayla and Mishalla are Gen, genetically modified humans who are created by the upper class trueborns to serve their needs. Injected with the DNA of animals they are born from tanks, designed to suit specific purposes and are considered to be the lowest of the low within a three tier caste system, ranking below the Trueborns and their relative inferiors the Lowborns. At the age of 15 all GEN are given an assignment which will take them away from their nurture families to fulfil whatever role they have been designated.
Whilst Mishalla becomes a carer for GEN children Kayla is sent away to look after Zul Manel, the eldest member of the highly influential, and Trueborn Manel family. There she gets to know Davek, the great-grandson of Zul whose seemingly blessed existence is worlds away from the childhood that Kayla has known. As the two girls settle into their new lives it begins to become clear that things are not quite as they seem on the surface. GEN Children are going missing and Kayla and Mishalla and their friends suddenly find themselves involved in a conspiracy which threatens everyone they know.
There are many reasons why I enjoyed reading this book. I loved the unique language that Sandler creates. There is a completely new lexicon which gives this book an ‘other worldly’ feel and reminded me of reading the old Star Wars books as a child. I also love the detail she provides when she describes the planet of Loki, where the characters reside having fled earth. Every location she detailed was so easy to picture. More than anything however, I like the way that concepts such as race and tolerance, or lack of it, are approached in this story. It’s fascinating to see how each character’s preconceptions of the others are challenged, particularly so with Kayla and Devak, their two worlds being so incongruent. It was also wonderful to see the barriers between them come crashing down. It took me a while to get into Mishalla and Eoghan’s story but by the end of the book I was totally hooked and I adored Eoghan’s clear devotion to Mishalla, it was so sweet! The ending for me was bitter sweet, but as with all good endings there is plenty of scope for the reader to take the characters where they want to which I really liked.
There’s a lot in this story to get readers thinking which I think places this above other books in this genre. With that and the wonderfully complex characters and gripping plotline I was completely enthralled by it. I look forward to reading more of Karen Sandler’s creations.
Rating: 4 out of 5. I really enjoyed reading this book. For anyone who enjoys the dystopian genre I would say that this is a must!