Author: Joel Ohman
Genre: Dystopian, Action, YA fiction, Science Fiction
The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment–to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.
But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn’t an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing–not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science–is going to stop him.
Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn’t possibly have bargained for…
Plot: The story is action-filled with mutated creatures and an oppressive system for control.
The story starts off with Charley protecting a girl about to be zeroed. This is the action of putting someone outside of the gates that protect the city. Charley is then put in a training program as a punishment to become a Hunter. He ends up training with the High Score girl Sandy who fights like a maniac. He, Sandy, and another High Score go on different hunting trips together. Sven Charley’s friend is captured. They fight together, working together. They even fight a bion a bull-lion. They take it down with Charley in charge. The result of the killing is Charley’s friend Sven being released. Charley finds a chip inside the bion. Sandy and Charley go into the Tower to investigate. There, they find out it’s a tracking chip or something of that sort. They go back to training before Charley finds out the little girl he saved was zeroed anyways. He attacks the Tower, destroying guards until none are left standing. Charley is jailed. The commander is ordered to let anyone under a Score of 100 to be let out of the city. The people rebel with Charley being freed with help from a portly man who runs the underworld named Chappy. Charley leads the people. The wall is blown to bits using C4. Invaders attack. Chappy, Charley, and the commander band together to fight back. Animal combinations come too the rescue, looking for the smell of blood and meat. The groups defeat the invaders. But the citizens have to fight back against the animals. Chappy goes into the Tower, letting only High Scores in. Charley has a sudden realization which results in him and Sandy and Sven and the Low Scores joining Commander Orson and Grigor in meeting Commander Orson’s father the instigator of the System.
And the story ends with that cliffhanger.
Charley. I like Charley. He’s a fighter. He works for things. He is an intelligent person. He does. He acts. He isn’t passive. I like that. Charley’s personality is something I look for in a character. To me, main characters need to be fighting for a reason, a cause. And Charley does so. I like that in him. Sure, he’s reckless, but he’s that crazy, good kind of reckless.
Problems: Meritropolis has many wild animal combinations. Bull-lion. Ram-puma. These, though, are creative yet overly wild. (This is mentioned in the good points as well.) They doesn’t seem possible. They don’t seem like they will happen.
We also get this odd point of view of an engineer. I don’t think it was entirely necessary. Sure, he blew up the wall, but that doesn’t mean he has to be a point of view. I think it would be fine if he wasn’t a narrator. Even if it’s just a few pages.
Commander Orson has a past. A cruel father. And we don’t get any of that. I wish we had more on his perspective. It would be interesting. You wouldn’t just get Charley’s perspective. You would see the perspective of a ‘bad guy’.
A problem, for me, is the cliffhanger. The plot is actually pretty interesting. It keeps you going. You feel energized. But the cliffhanger just tears you apart. What happens next? Who will survive? What will Orson’s father do? You are left with these questions that don’t explain. Which is disappointing to say the least.
Good points: This was, all together, a pretty good book. There were bad parts at times. And there were good parts. It’s hard to say, though, which surpasses which.
A good part is also a problem. The animal combinations were creative. I liked the use of creativity this story had. But it was overly so. A crow-ant? That’s not even humanly possible. No matter what the radiation was. I don’t think these combinations are possible.
Another good point is the main character. I like Charley. He’s interesting. He has a past you don’t know the entirety of. He’s a fighter and gets something similar to the ‘red hot’ Saba (‘Blood Red Road’) gets when she’s ready to fight. He is a doer. He acts. I like that in a character. Especially a main character.
The plot is action. It is entirely action. I enjoyed that. It was fascinating and keeping you on the edge of your seat. You had to know what happened. Charley is such an experienced fighter. I think that’s a good quality in him, and that just adds to the action. He’s no novice to fighting. Hand-to-hand or not.
Recommended: If you like dystopian books with weird animals. If you like strong main characters.