Classification: Young Adult
Series: Dark Gifts (Book 1)
Format: Hardcover; 368 pages
Publisher: Del Rey (February 14, 2017)
Author's Website: http://www.vicjames.co.uk/
Notes: I received and eARC loan from the publisher for review purposes.
The country of Britain is ruled by Equals, and while their name implies fairness and impartiality, their rule is anything but. Equals hold all the power both figuratively and literally. With the power (aka Skill) to do unnatural things, they use it to their full advantage. Those born outside the Skilled families are not deemed full citizens until they've completed 10 years of service during which they are not considered people, and are sometimes treated worse than the animals. The general population, however, knows very little about Equals or what happens in the slavetowns. You see, the worst of what happens in the slavetowns stays in the slave towns. Equals make sure of it.
Abigail 'Abi' Hadley is a clever young girl who believes she has found a way to keep her family together in jobs very similar to those they'd hold in the 'free' world. She thought the deal she had struck was iron clad, but soon finds out when dealing with Equals their word, whether written or spoken, can be broken at a whim. Not only that, she may have unwittingly just landed her family in the middle of what could be the beginning of a revolution...
The Equals reminded me a little of the Graced in Graceling, but so far that seems to be the only similarity between the two stories. Set in what appears to be a more modern time, Abi thinks she's found an easier way for the family to serve out their slavedays. She found that there is a department within the Labor Allocation Bureau called Estates Services where the Equals go for their house-slaves. She arranges to have the family work for the founding family, the Jardines. When they arrive to start their service, however, they find all but the youngest son will be spending their time at Kyneston. While the majority of the family will get an inside view of Equals and their politics, Luke will get an up close and personal view of the horrors that take place in slavetowns. He ends up at the worst of the lot, Millmoor. Something that, according to the rules, should never have happened.
I found the book engaging with characters that were easily sympathized with. The predicament of the Hadleys was awful, and I'm eager to find out what happens next. This one ends in a cliffhanger and I'm very curious to know where the author will take this family and world. I enjoyed seeing the two sides of Britain with its political posturing and poor treatment of its people. While we get a good glimpse into the workings of Britain, I'm sure there's much of it we haven't yet seen.
Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. The book had a steady pace with nuggets of information nicely strewn throughout. I'm intrigued by the world building, and look forward to getting even deeper into the world. This series is very promising, and I definitely want to read the next book. The novel is a little dark, and I imagine as we explore this world more intimately, it will get even more so. Definitely worth your time. I can't wait for the next installment. On the Lisarenee Romance rating scale, this one scored a SMILE rating--a lady always tries to be polite so a smile should suffice (ie no heat whatsoever).