Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Release Date: September 15th, 2011
Source: ARC via NetGalley
My Rating: ★★★★☆
Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. GENs are gestated in a tank 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 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.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan to save the disappearing children. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, revealing secrets no one is ready to face.
It’s been a while since I’ve picked up a book that is mainly science fiction and enjoyed it so much. Karen Sandler introduces us to Loka, a planet that the people of Earth colonize in the future due to Earth’s climate crumbling down, and in the process introduces us to a whole new vocabulary. Names of plants, animals, inanimate objects, all strange names for strange things. It is truly a fascinating new world. Fans of dystopia and a little known movie called “Avatar” will enjoy this.
Tankborn is told from two different points of view, Kayla and Mishalla’s. Kayla and Mishalla are childhood friends and really see each other more like sisters, nurture sisters, because they are “tankborn” or born from a tank and not a mother, or as more commonly referred to in the book, they are GENs (Genetically Engineered Non-Humans). GENs are human in every aspect of the word, except that they are not born from an actual mother, they have an extra annexed brain to which you can upload information to and download information from, and carry an elaborate tattoo on their cheek which serves as the interface with which this annexed brain can be accessed.
GENs are raised by “nurture mothers” up to age 15, at which age the GEN is assigned as a slave somewhere where they spend the rest of their short lives serving others. You see, Loka’s society is not like the one we know now on Earth. Society is divided into different social statuses, starting from the High-Status Trueborns which are the richer few and born the traditional way and all the way down to the GENs which are the lowest in the social ladder. Kayla and Mishalla are two GENs who are assigned to different assignments in two different regions of Loka. Assignments that couldn’t be any more different from each other, but that in reality are linked together in a very unique way. Before they know it, Kayla and Mishalla are thrown into a web of deceit, hatred, and racism while in the process finding out that they are not just any ordinary GENs as they have been told their whole lives that they are.
Both Kayla and Mishalla find love during this travesty, in the most unlikely of places. I did feel that the relationships in this book were a bit rushed and out of the blue and at the end of the book felt that the story needed to continue. I am sincerely hoping that Karen Sandler is planning on continuing the story. A sequel? I definitely hope so. I gave this book 4 stars for the well told and unique story. I would have given it 5 if the romance between the characters had been better developed.