Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated when the time comes for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. High-status trueborns and working-class lowborns, born naturally of a mother, are free to choose their own lives. But GENs are gestated in a tank, sequestered in slums, and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds a host of secrets and surprises—not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul's great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night. With the help of an intriguing lowborn boy, Mishalla begins to suspect that something horrible is happening to them.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan with their new friends to save the children who are disappearing. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, one that may reveal secrets no one is ready to face.
Tankborn was a breath of fresh air for me to read. So unique, I never thought 'Oh, this is like such and such book'. It was well-written and it sucked me in from the beginning. I also have to give a shout out to the author for doing some awesomely organic world-building! If that makes sense :-) I could tell there was a rich history behind the unique setting but was never bombarded with information. I really liked that although this was a wonderfully created world, there was no learning curve. It was just very natural, seamless and easy to read.
Tankborn takes place in a future where the population has moved to a different planet that is very similar to Earth. As a result of this evacuation, an archaic caste system was set in place to keep the Trueborns at the top and the Lowborns at the bottom. That is until the GENs were created. GENs were grown, not born. And they were grown with certain skills to help them in serving their Trueborn masters.
The story is told by three different characters, one of which is male, and I enjoyed reading all of them. There was never one of those 'Not this one again' moments. No weaknesses there. I loved the quiet strength of the two GEN characters, Kayla and Mishalla. Their sweetly innocent love with two boys that are not GEN is seen as scandalous in their world. Yet they are pulled together despite there differences and prejudices. Both couples' love develops in such a real and pure way that it made me enjoy these two plotlines so much.
Did I mention the seriously cool plot? Well, I can't say much or I'd give it away, but suffice it to say that it's genius.
Publication Date: September 15, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
Source: Thanks to Lee and Low Books and Netgalley!