"If you see a beast, and you have the shot, don't hesitate. Kill it." For seventeen years, fees have lived separate from beasts. The division of the sexes has kept their world peaceful. Glori Rhodes is like most other fees her age. She adores her neighborhood's abandoned Costco, can bench her body weight, and she knew twenty-seven beast counterattack moves by the time she was seven. She has never questioned the separation of the sexes or the rules that keep her post-nuclear hometown safe. But when her mother secretly gives birth to a baby beast, Glori grows to love the child and can't help wondering: What really is the difference between us and them? When her brother, at the age of five, is snatched in a vicious raid, Glori and her best friend, Su, do the unthinkable - covertly infiltrate the City of Beasts to get him back. What's meant to be a smash-and-grab job quickly becomes the adventure of a lifetime as the fees team up with a fast-talking, T-shirt cannon-wielding beast named Sway, and Glori starts to see that there's more to males, and her own history, than she's been taught. Glori, Sway, and a motley cohort of friends will go to the ends of the earth to find her little brother. And maybe save their divided world while they're at it.
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Glori grew up after the separation, and this world has been all she knows. She grew up with her mother, grandmother, and their co-habitating partners, Su and her mother. After her mother was taken by the beasts, she returned pregnant, giving birth to a beast- Glori's beloved little brother. Glori worries he will turn into a beast from the stories, violent and cruel, but he is still her little brother. When he is captured at five years old and taken into the City of Beasts, Glori knows she would do anything to get him back.
She hatches a plan with Su, and they travel into enemy territory to save her brother. However, things are not as simple as they expected, and plots bigger than they ever could have anticipated are afoot. With amazing characters and messages about looking deeper than the stereotypes pervading the novel, this book is an incredible read.
What I loved: The characters, the world building, and the whole book are just amazing! Glori is really well-crafted- she is intelligent and an amazing fighter, and we understand her conflicts and struggle as she comes to terms with the world she has known and the world she finds now. Through her eyes, we see not only this dystopian future but also our lives as they are now and the inherent sexism in the everyday (advertisements, expectations, etc.). In terms of the secondary characters, they are also fully three-dimensional and complex- with so many I absolutely fell in love with.
The world is similarly well-crafted and so easy to imagine. The science is logical and makes sense. Furthermore, this all develops without dragging the plot or slowing the pace. This book is really beautifully written. There is appropriate humor (laugh-out-loud while reading funny), tension (thriller-like danger in places), complex theories (great discussions about sexism, stereotypes, science), and a dash of romance to complete this engrossing novel.
Final verdict: CITY OF BEASTS is an incredible read, and I highly recommend for any fans of YA dystopian/sci-fi. Engaging, complex, and completely entertaining, this book will keep you turning pages quickly until the satisfying end.