After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated...and their genetics damaged beyond repair.
The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…
And then there's Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.
When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?
As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.
The twins' father thinks poorly of True Borns, so it's only natural that Margot and Lucy would too. But when True Borns are hired to protect Lucy and Margot, Lucy finds herself oddly attracted to Jared. He's infuriating and aggressive, but she can't stop feeling attracted towards him. A lot of secrets are being kept from the twins and Jared and his leader, Storm, may be the ones with all of the answers.
TRUE BORN is a political whirlwind that has an X-Men feel to it. Lucy and Margot were interesting characters. The feelings developing between Jared and Lucy are so hot and cold that I hope to see a lot more hot in the second one.
Final Verdict: This story is perfect for fans of a post-apocalyptic setting, politics, drama, and evolutionary stories like X-Men.
An unmentioned number of years after a plague of unknown origins has decimated humanity, the human genome is in shambles. People continue dying off starting in their late teens, and those unfortunate enough not to be able to afford genetic modifications are referred to as “Lasters.” Those who can afford life-extending alterations are called “Splicers.” And then there are “True Born”--those born with a wide range of animal-like traits that make them somehow immune to the plague and, in some case, super-human in abilities.
The story is told entirely in first-person present-tense, from the POV of almost 18-year-old Lucy Fox—a wealthy girl with extremely powerful parents, who also happens to be the more reserved of a set of identical twins (originally conjoined at the toe). Lucy and her sister, Margot, have a semi-telepathic bond they’ve never told anyone about. So when Margot disappears, Lucy is the only one who knows how to find her. But Lucy’s talents are limited to her sheltered high-society upbringing, and their enigmatic new security team may be the girls’ only hope for long-term survival in a world poised between dying and “evolving.”
What I Liked:
The premise was intriguing enough to draw me in initially. It manages to resemble a sort of post-plague dystopian X-men, (but with more causative ambiguity.) As such, the action scenes and transformation-related instances were fairly cinematic and engaging.
I also have to give the writing credit—it’s difficult to pull off first-person present-tense without the artificial immediacy becoming a nagging irritant (in this reader’s opinion). The prose imparts a bleak, ethereal tone that suits the overall theme quite nicely.
What Didn’t Work For Me:
Unfortunately, readers may have some trouble forming emotional connectivity to most of the characters in this story. No one particularly stood out as likeable or sympathetic --though this may be related to how little background readers are given on anyone. (Little to no mention of Lucy’s personal interests, hobbies, desires for her future, or formative memories. Base backstory on Jared doesn’t appear until page 185, and even then the info divulged may not be enough for readers to root for him.) Lucy, our only point of view character, proves again and again to be whiney, slow on the uptake, and more of a liability than a help to most situations.
The insta-lust based romance between Lucy and Jared continued on to be unconvincingly lacking in emotional development, and the interactions between them at times bordered on romanticized abuse. Lots of the hero lording power over the heroine, general manhandling, continuous belittling disrespect… At one point he even grabs her hard enough that his nails make her bleed. (All this while the heroine remains a largely passive and reactionary without driving anything involving the plot.)
*Lesser-But-Related Complaint: Early on, Jared bestows on Lucy the aggravatingly unoriginal mock-endearment of “Princess.” This appeared often enough that it grated on my tolerance and hindered any remaining chance of me caring about him.
Lucy and Margot’s parents aren’t simply negligent as parents, they also function more like one-dimensionally self-serving plot devices. I had very little sense for them being real people—more like narcissistic and malignant human traffickers at the very top of the post-apocalyptic pay scale. The father, especially, executed logic-lacking choices often enough that it made little sense how he could have managed to maintain the level of power he supposedly possessed.
There was a lot of promising potential here, but answers to most questions are evidently being saved for later installments. I don’t recommend going into this first book expecting closure.
This may be an option for shapeshifter Urban Fantasy fans who prefer their worldbuilding spare, and their heroes on the sensual-yet-erratically-mean side.
Lucy and Margot live in Dominion, where their father is the most prestigious man and holds the highest position among the Upper Circle. As such, they are treated as display items for their parents and held to the highest standards- which isn’t always easy. They are about to turn 18 and will find out if they are Lasters or Splicers- but something keeps going wrong with the tests, and they must redo them several times. Their father would never associate with True Borns, which is why it shocks the girls when their father hires some as back-up protection for their usual Mercs (mercenaries hired by the rich to protect them). However, they quickly come in handy when Margot disappears and Lucy perceives her pain.
Lucy must turn to the True Borns to help save her sister. At the same time, many questions arise about what they are and what that will mean for their future. The book moves really quickly- maybe too quickly at first, as it is hard to follow this alternate world; we pick up the pieces to how this world has evolved and the types of people living in it slowly throughout the book. There is a lot of mystery shrouding the sisters, even after the world and its people have been built for the reader. It will keep you guessing throughout- and as this is part of a series, the ending does not bring much closure (I can’t wait for the next one!).
There is a pretty quick romance/insta-connection between Lucy and someone else (not the person I thought from the beginning of the book), but it really grew on me and I loved it by about halfway through. Lucy and Margot are well built characters, and even though we spend most of our time with and learn the most about Lucy, Margot is pretty fleshed out too- I am hoping to get to learn more about her in the next book.
My only complaint is that the book feels way too short! I would love to have more- and I can’t wait to read the second book! This is a really fantastic series and I am definitely going to be among the first in line to see it continue. I also wish there had been more world-building, as there seems to be so much different about this world than ours, but I assume more will come as we continue the series/the sisters learn more. As a heads up (and this might be a spoiler), there is quite a lot of violence (there’s a war continuing between Lasters and Splicers/essentially between the classes), and some personal violation (eggs harvested without consent) that is good to know if this may bother a reader- it’s not easy to read.