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Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches– moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything- the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.
When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender– a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?
The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico– escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is shot and forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.
Okay, so I've seen just about everything in dystopians, well, I thought I had. But along comes The Breeders and I see something new and I am so wonderfully surprised by it! Obviously, the name gives away what it's about. The population of women has died down, (we're a precious commodity!) and women are needed to repopulate the world. However, "women" are not the only ones being used. Girls, as soon as they reach puberty are being sold for their fertility. They are being stolen from their homes violently sometimes their families are killed so that no one comes after them. The Breeders have all kinds of rumors about them including horrible experiments they perform on women and that they are like huge insects. I'm not going to tell you what is true and what isn't.
What I will say is that it didn't take me long to get hooked into this story. Riley is a totally believable character, flawed, but with passion and purpose. She has such a certainty of what she wants to do and most likely no plan as to how to do it, but that never stops her. She's a pantser for sure and that's really what I like about her. She's always looking for an opportunity. And family comes first. She's got an adorable little brother, Ethan, and so many times she could just give up if it weren't for him. She calls him an "Old Soul" and really as much as he's seen at his tender age, eight I believe, he is an old soul much wiser than his years.
Clay is a difficult character at first to figure out. Trust is hard to win and I was never quite sure if he was going to turn on Riley. Even after she had to go to the Breeders because of her terrible injuries, I wasn't sure if he collected a fee for turning her in or not. Clay keeps his reasons and feelings closed off to Riley, but she can see that he loves Ethan and actually gets a bit jealous of their relationship.
I didn't get emotionally attached to anyone really, but towards the end of the book I had a "wait, what? No, you can't do that!" moment. I wasn't ready for that to happen. Things were just getting interesting with them. Let's just say Katie French isn't afraid to put her characters in mortal peril or even kill some off. So don't get too comfortable.
The book is truly fascinating. The reason for the decline in the female population is given and the reason for the Breeders Hospital is also clearly given. The leader of the Breeders Hospital will absolutely stun you. And disgust you as well. A revolt is in definite need! Some characters from some other dystopians could really help out here cause most of those who would lead a revolt are barefoot and pregnant, really! No cliffhangers, no love triangles.
Recommended for lovers of dystopians, strong female leads, family relationships, something different!
I believe I would recommend this to a little bit older YA readers. There is talk of sex slaves, hookers, allusions to rape, and talk of sex. I believe there may have been some adult language. Definitely violence. None of it was overdone or overly graphic. I do highly recommend this novel. I am hooked and can't wait for the next in the series!
Thanks to Kismet Book Tours and Katie French for the complimentary copy of the novel for review!
Here is a little information about Katie French.
About Katie French - website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads
Katie French imagined herself an author when her poem caught the eye of her second grade teacher.
In middle school she spent her free time locked in her room, writing her first young adult novel. Though her social life suffered, her love for literature thrived. She studied English at Eastern Michigan University, where she veered from writing and earned an education degree. She spent nine years teaching high school English.
Currently she is a school counselor, doing a job that is both one of the hardest things she’s ever done and the most rewarding. In her free time she writes, reads great books and takes care of her two beautiful and crazy children. She is a contributor and co-creator of Underground Book Reviews, a website dedicated to erasing the boundaries between traditional and non-traditional publishing. She lives in Michigan with her husband and two children.
And now for the Giveaway