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 is a dystopian novel that is set on a different planet, although it seems much like Earth. It's also science-fiction-ey with the genetic engineering as a predominant part of the society.
There are a lot of interesting elements to this book. There's genetic splicing of animal DNA to human DNA to make new GENs with special strengths, tattoos used to hook up datapods to the GENs, a strict caste system, and hover cars! I've always been a fan of hover cars!
There's an obvious social message in this book, told through the caste system. The highborns and lowborns are differentiated by their eye and skin color, as well as the clothing and jewelry they wear. The GENs have no status at all as they are not even considered human. These ranks and issues mirror the problems our society has/has had with different races, religions, and economic levels. While I embraced the idea of exploring these issues in the book, I felt like I was being hit over the head with it. There was so much exposition on it from each character, over and over, saying the same things, it got old very quickly for me.
Overall, it's an interesting book and worth a read if you enjoy dystopian and/or science fiction novels.
*Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review.
I give this book 3 Bookworms.
Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Lee & Low Books (September 15, 2011)
Ebook: 1,172 KB
Publisher: Lee & Low Books/Tu Books