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Young Adult Fiction 579
Overall rating
Writing Style
BREEDER by Honni van Rijswijk is a YA Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic novel in which natural disasters and war have killed off most of the population. The survivors went on to form the Corp, a non-government, business entity that controls society. Under the Corp, people live in different zones according to their socio-economic class. In the outer, poorer zone where Will lives, Westies have to work off the units they owe the Corp for protecting them, education, and whatever else the Corp decides. If Westies are lucky, they’ll make it to retirement age, and if they’re not, they’ll get sent to the Rator to die. That is, of course, unless they’re girls, in which case they are sent off to the Incubator to produce children for the Corp until they are bought or until they are no longer capable of live births. Will, though, has figured out a plan to get by, and most importantly, he has a vision for his future— but that all changes when his dangerous secret is found out and his life flips upside down.

What works extremely well in this book is the tone the author creates. Every circumstance is life-or-death and no one’s safe. There’s no sense that the main character will be okay because he’s the main character, and since anything could happen, it feels real. Because of this, the book made me reflect on the structure of our current society in comparison to where Will is growing up. Spoiler alert, it’s upsetting.

As a rule of thumb, I don’t love it when the main character or narrator of a book hides secrets from the reader, which is how BREEDER is structured. Instead of interacting with the world through the eyes of the character, we as readers only find out about what the character already knows when the character is confronted with it. In my opinion, it’s a missed opportunity for greater tension-building and it also robs the reader from being able to fully imagine the world or connect with the character. For example, I am very confused about how fertility works here if only five percent of people can reproduce. If all reproduction is controlled by the government, except in regards to released Shadows, how are there enough Westie babies to replenish the working class, which the Corp desperately needs? Details like that are those that get lost when the POV is limited.

Aside from that, BREEDER is a fast-paced read with nail-biting plot developments. It’s perfect for fans of THE HANDMAID’S TALE and THE GIVER.
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