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*Starred Review* In Djanikian's horrifically brutal, compelling debut, postapocalyptic America is left peopled by two groups: those who live emotionally controlled existences in high-tech underground settlements such as America-Five, and the wild, emotionally fierce people of the Tribes, who are granted mercy by those in the underground settlements. Natasha Wiley works under the strangely intriguing Jeffrey Montague in America-Five's Department of Mercy, where she spends her days tracking those unfortunate tribespeople who live haunted lives aboveground, struggling to feed themselves as they trek through the wilderness that sprang up after planned sweeps 305 years earlier obliterated 59 billion souls who were suffering immensely on an overcrowded planet. The Tribes are the descendants of those who survived. Since the original sweeps, America-Five and its sister settlements have granted mercy to more than 8 million people. Natasha has been raised to use logic rather than feelings, but seesawing emotions begin to grip her when she is plunged into a sweep herself and comes face-to-face with the very Tribe she is helping to exterminate. As she considers the actual consequences of her and her people's actions, she must question everything and everyone she has ever held true, especially Jeffrey and the intense feelings she has developed for him. A grim muse on a future with shades of the Hunger Games, Djanikian's first offering should attract readers voracious for this popular subgenre.--Trevelyan, Julie Copyright 2010 Booklist
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In this thoughtful debut, Djanikian explores the disconnect between a utopian vision and its dystopian implementation. America-Five is one of several self-contained habitats built in an attempt to survive in an overcrowded and deprived world. Once the habitats' settlers set off the Storm, the world's population dropped from a staggering 59 billion to mere hundreds of thousands. Three hundred years later, population is tightly controlled both within and outside the settlements, with each habitat's Office of Mercy benevolently killing members of the starving, scrounging outside tribes to ease their suffering. Natasha Wiley, a young citizen assigned to the Office of Mercy, knows empathy will only get in the way of her necessary work, but when she comes into close contact with one of the tribes, her reaction sets off world-changing events. Despite the emphasis on human emotion, Djanikian's approach is more cerebral than emotionally satisfying, and readers may respond by trying to poke holes in the intriguing premise rather than enjoying the ride. Agent: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Brick House. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Life in America-Five, one of many dome-covered settlements that cross what was once America, is controlled, clean, and safe. Citizens of the settlement are taught that they have moved beyond the harshness of nature, the uncertainties of biology, that they are the pinnacle of the human species. Natasha Wiley believes the doctrine of her community without question and has the privilege of working in the settlement's Office of Mercy. Her task is to end the suffering of all humans left outside the dome. When Natasha is allowed out on a rare mission, her encounters with one of the remaining tribes of humans lead her to question all she has been taught, including the very core of her beliefs-her identity. Verdict Remarkably, Djanikian's debut novel leads us to find sympathy, even understanding, with Natasha's culture. Just as we are aware that the settlement's "Office of Mercy" is essentially a euphemism for genocide, we feel Natasha's conflicts among what she has been taught, those she loves, and her changing understanding of right and wrong. Billed as a YA crossover dystopian novel, this book makes for an interesting read that will appeal to fans of Julianna Baggott's "Pure" trilogy as well as the dystopian fiction of Margaret Atwood and Justin Cronin. [See Prepub Alert, 8/9/13.]-Jennifer Beach, Cumberland Cty. P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.