Book review of The Breeders by Katie Lynn French

I’d picked up The Breeders a couple of years ago when author Katie French and I were both involved in Author Salon.

She was one of the first people to leave the group and strike out on her own.

What Amazon says:

The Breeders

The Breeders

“When the Breeders come for ya, there ain’t no escape. They strap ya to a bed and all ya hear is the thud of your heart and the cries of your friends as they wheel ya down to hell. Then the doctors come. You squeeze your eyes shut and pray you can forget. But ya never do.”

Sixteen-year-old Riley Meemick is one of the world’s last free girls. When Riley was born, her mother escaped the Breeders, the group of doctors using cruel experiments to bolster the dwindling human race. Her parents do everything possible to keep her from their clutches—moving from one desolate farm after another to escape the Breeders’ long reach. The Breeders control everything- the local war lords, the remaining factories, the fuel. They have unchecked power in this lawless society. And they’re hunting Riley.

When the local Sheriff abducts the adult members of her family and hands her mother over to the Breeders, Riley and her eight-year-old brother, Ethan, hiding in a shelter, are left to starve. Then Clay arrives, the handsome gunslinger who seems determined to help to make up for past sins. The problem is Clay thinks Riley is a bender—a genderless mutation, neither male nor female. As Riley’s affection for Clay grows she wonders can she trust Clay with her secret and risk her freedom?

The three embark on a journey across the scarred remains of New Mexico—escaping the Riders who use human sacrifice to appease their Good Mother, various men scrambling for luck, and a deranged lone survivor of a plague. When Riley is forced into the Breeder’s hospital, she learns the horrible fate of her mother—a fate she’ll share unless she can find a way out.

My thoughts:

The novel opens in medias res, and the reader experiences first hand the dangerous world into which Riley has been born.

Her family’s farm is under attack and Riley must hide away in a storm cellar to avoid capture. The men responsible for the attack are armed and outnumber the farm’s defenders. If they get their hands on any of the women who could give birth to a healthy child, they’ll be sold to the Breeders.

Riley doesn’t really know who the Breeders are or what they’re capable of, but she believes the stories of her mother and auntie, and lives in constant fear for her safety and liberty.

A series of unfortunate events leads to the death of her step-father, Arn, who protected the family from the ravages of desperate men.

French keeps the pacing fast and the action fresh, rarely letting up on the throttle. The sense of danger established in the opening scene never lets up, even after the denouement, preparing the reader for the sequel.

The romantic subplot is deftly handled and the author offers some refreshing twists that pit Riley’s conflicting needs against one another.

The only dissatisfying bit was one character’s changing allegiance. While French is careful to plant the seeds of dissention in the good doctor’s speech and actions, the indications that he disagrees with his rich and powerful employer aren’t enough to make his sudden departure and support of Riley convincing.

His weasel-like behaviour only makes me think that he will betray Riley, and I found myself disappointed that Riley didn’t give any indication she sees it coming.

The Breeders is an excellent first novel and I’ve already purchased French’s second book, The Believers.

This YA dystopian paints a picture of scientific advancement gone wrong and its unexpected consequences. In a future in which boy babies far outnumber the girls, a working uterus becomes a treasure beyond value and a commodity worth killing for.

The “haves” are those that control the breeding program. Everyone else is a “have not” living in a wild-west world of testosterone-fuelled posturing and perpetual gang wars where women and children become both the ultimate victims and the ultimate heroes.

My rating:

4 out of 5 stars.

Coming up on Writerly Goodness:

An update on my television addiction and whether the series I’ve started to watch have offered any gems of Writerly Goodness; an update on the Sudbury Writers’ Guild critique sessions and other SWG changes; more book reviews and author interviews; a discussion of what I learned from the facilitating virtual classes course I’m taking; a monthly next chapter update on the writing biz, and any other things apropos of nothing as they occur 😉