Blurb: Someone must die before another can be born…
As sea levels rise and liveable landmasses shrink, the Reorganized United States of America has instituted population control measures to ensure there are sufficient resources and food to sustain the growing population. Birth authorization must be paid for and obtained prior to having a child. Someone must die before another can be born, keeping the country in a population neutral position at what experts consider to be the optimal population. The new laws are enforced by a ruthless government organization known as Pop Con, responsible for terminating any children resulting from unauthorized births, and any illegals who manage to survive past their second birthday, at which point they are designated a national security threat and given the name Slip.
But what if one child slipped through the cracks? What if someone knew all the loopholes and how to exploit them? Would it change anything? Would the delicate resource balance be thrown into a tailspin, threatening the lives of everyone?
And how far would the government go to find and terminate the Slip?
In a gripping story of a family torn apart by a single choice, Slip is a reminder of the sanctity of a single life and the value of the lives we so often take for granted.
This is terrific start to a YA trilogy. Don’t let the slightly choppy opening chapters put you off. It takes a little while to fall into place, but once you get the gist of it, it compels you to keep reading.
We see the world initially through the eyes of a boy who starts life nameless, except for Son or Child. Isolated yet cared for with love by his father and his ‘nanny’, his six year old self is already beginning to question his isolation and his identity. It is, of course, only a matter of time before he is cast brutally into the outside world to survive as best he might.
This is a well realised futuristic dystopian vision that retains a human heart. The impact of the population laws on the individuals we meet in the story gives the book quite a bit of power.
I found the survival instinct (without being feral) of the outcast teenagers reasonably believable – I would like to think that is how many adolescents might react in such a situation. I never liked Lord of the Flies. In fact I think that one of the really fine insights in the book is the teenagers’ matter-of-fact acceptance of their plight and their need to work outside the rules but within the system. Survival drives them to subvert the system to their own needs, but that is a far cry from the deep felt outrage and rebellion that leads to the violent action practised by the out and out rebels against the system. This distinction gives added pathos to the teens’ story and generates a great deal of sympathy for them.
The characters are well drawn, especially the principals. The dilemma of the parents and their suffering is quite excruciatingly revealed as the story progresses. The development of Benson Mack’s character is particularly well done and really does drive the story forward to its conclusion. Some great light and shade and just enough grey to stop it being simplistic while avoiding over-sophistication. It is very well targeted to a young adult audience, I feel.
The author writes well enough to sometimes scratch in harsh prose and other times to paint with a delicate touch, evoking vivid and unexpectedly lovely images and sensitive observations that both ameliorate and highlight the hardness of the story.
The notion that ultimately everyone is a victim of repressive laws is a strongly made point too. As well as being a suspenseful mystery, this book will make you ask yourself questions and maybe make you attempt to answer them as well.
Absolutely worth a read, recommended.