(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Stylish, frenetic, and violent, Chapman's debut is the textual equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino movie. The star is West Grayer, the 15-year-old sole survivor of what was once a family of six. Her mother became collateral damage in a state-sanctioned assassination; her father committed suicide; two siblings were also assassination targets; and the third was another collateral victim. This is all fairly normal, because West lives in an assassination-based society where children are bred in pairs, but raised separately. When the state decides it's time-anywhere between ages 10 and 20-the twins are notified, and a lethal game of hide-and-seek begins, with the winner awarded the privileges of living and breeding. It's how the state creates a defense-ready population. Parents scarcely object: one mother says to a targeted teen, "[T]his is not the time to be testing my patience," as though imminent death were roughly on par with breaking curfew. The brutality is no worse than in The Hunger Games or dozens of other entertainment options, but the societal nonchalance that surrounds it makes for a dismal setting. Ages 12-up. Agent: Steven Chudney, the Chudney Agency. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Aside from steadfast Chord, 15-year-old West has no one. But that doesn't mean that no one is looking for her. As is tradition with every young person and his or her Alt (a genetic twin born to different parents), West and her double will soon be given their assignments and forced to hunt down each other until one is dead and the other gets to live on as an adult. Fearing her inexperience will doom her, as it did several of her siblings, West hires on as a striker, an assassin who completes assignments on behalf of wealthy Alts. But when her own assignment finally comes in, she finds herself frozen despite Chord's constant care and prodding. The relationship between Chord and West develops realistically enough. What is less logical is West's resistance to completing her assignment, especially in light of Chord's undeniable love for her, and her growing experience as a killer. Despite the uneven pacing of this debut, the subject matter will attract readers who appreciate especially harsh dystopian settings and situations.--Booth, Heather Copyright 2010 Booklist