Author: Karen Sandler
Pub: Lee & Low; 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian
Etc: via Netgalley
FIRST AND FOREMOST - didja check out that cover? Yay to POC. I adore that this is a dysfic and it's all about caste systems and allusions of discrimination and race WITHOUT being about race itself, but more about "who and what" defines humanity.
And yes, I'm all *fingers crossed* that this book is a hit because folks I'm not a huge dysfic kinda reader and I have to admit that in the beginning I almost stopped reading. Which would have been devastating because there is just SO MUCH to discuss.
S'okay, my gripes. And it's really my biggest gripe. There are way too many new words for words that already exist. I think that this is a science fiction thing? I've heard of people refer to two different types of science fiction - high and low. Is there truth to that? (1) And if I'm remembering it correctly, "high scifi" is where worlds/universes/allofexistences are created (think Lord of the Rings) whereas "low scifi" is maybe more like how True Blood is urban fantasy? I don't know I could be talking about of my arse...but the thing is, the GRIPE is the unnecessary jargon. It's what causes me to shy away from any type of "high scifi" I am awful at learning languages and my mind just can't keep up with these new verbal symbols. Tankborn had its share of new verbal symbols. I found them to be like little speed bumps in my reading, and it absolutely put me off.
But I persevered and here's the DL.
Kayla and Mishella are best buds living in a slummed district known as Chadi. They're GENS, which means their lives aren't their own. They were created by humans with human DNA but are considered non-human. Each GEN is gifted with a specialty: for Kayla it's her strength and for Mishella it's her nurturing spirit. Upon their fifteenth year, the GENS are sent away from their nurturers and home life to work for a trueborn.
There's a caste system going on here where trueborns rank the highest and GENS are the lowest, and a couple of other "middle class" borns in between.
Tankborn, like I think most dysfic's are suppose to do, brings forth an interesting commentary about racism, humanity, economic status. THESE are all of the right reasons to read dysfic.
There were many occasions where the similarities of GEN-ism and segregation were unnerving. For example, I recently saw The Help (2) and there was a specific collection of scenes where the whites were appalled at using the same toilets as the blacks because gawd only knows what diseases they might catch. And really, it's for the best of BOTH races ..blah blah blah. Well, dude, in the case of Tankborn, GENS can't touch trueborns (and if you haven't figured it out yet, trueborns are those born from the womb) because of one reason or the next. Obvs there are those moments and you're like I-see-the-similarity-thanks. That's not what makes this book great...it's much deeper than that.
What makes this book great is the intricate creation of the GENS and the questions of their existence and what that means to humanity. It's how GENS have their own religion and how that's used to define them and even manipulate them. It's how close we are to creating GENS ourselves. Oh and don't forget that little nagging voice that wants to ask when is the use of science a disservice, a ticking bomb, a near explosion to what makes LIFE so miraculous.
This is the type of book that would be a godsend to teach in upper level high school.
And yes, I have to admit, part of me was a bit jealous of the capability of datapods. I can't help it...even though in this book they are Evil..or at least Not Good...I partly still kinda want an exterior brain pod with a circuit board where I could just upload information to whenever it benefitted me. By gawd, I do want to be a walking encyclopedia. There. I said it.
Now. Do yourself a favor and run out and purchase this book.
(1) I realize that I could just google it, but I'm lazy.
(2) For those of you who just read the novel, I'm sure that this scene is in it as well.