This is the third book I read for this year’s 48 Hour Book Challenge. I heard about it from the Book Smugglers a while back and asked my library to buy it last December… so it’s about time I got around to reading it.
Tankborn by Karen Sandler. Tu Books, 2011.
Kayla and Mishalla are best friends, but they know that when they turn 15, they’ll be Assigned to jobs anywhere in the country, with no way to communicate with each other again. They are both Tankborn, genetically engineered to meet specific needs in serving the Trueborn and Lowborn residents of Loka. Kayla, with engineered extra-strong arms, is assigned to care for an elderly trueborn man, while nurturing Mishalla is assigned to a crisis crèche, caring for a rapidly changing room full of babies and toddlers. They think they are just ordinary GENs, as the tankborn are called – but someone must think something else, because they both have secret data uploaded to their annex brains via the interface tattoos on their faces, along with being given physical datapods that will get the girls wiped if they are found. And both of them meet very good-looking, sweet boys who are way out of their league.
This was a really solid, entertaining book. Sandler did her work with a well-developed world that includes details of religion, dress, food, social customs and more. For most people, rank is easy to tell by skin color – the perfect shade of mahogany. Kayla’s skin color on the cover looks pretty accurate, and it’s unfashionably light, though too dark is also bad. Kayla’s romance was definitely on the insta-love side at the beginning, and I was worried, but they did go through and develop more of a real relationship. This is a thoughtful sci-fi/dystopian look at a caste system, with enough intrigue, action and romance to keep everything moving. I started not quite sure it would all work, and now I really want to go on to read Awakening, the next book in the trilogy. And I need to ask the teen librarian to buy Rebellion, which just came out this week.