Purchase from Amazon: Defect
Defect by Ryann Kerekes
Book Description (from Amazon)
Locked in the mental ward on her sixteenth birthday, Eve Sterling doesn’t think things can get any worse. They can. After failing the mindscan procedure that predicts future crime, she’s deemed a Defect and subjected to endless psychological and physical testing as the government tries to determine what’s different about her.
The one bright spot is military guard, Will. He’s gentle with her when no one’s watching and suppresses a smile whenever she defies their challenges. Will’s lessons begin to dance dangerously close to knowledge she shouldn’t possess, like what’s beyond the fenced compound. Though it’s forbidden and Will would be killed on the spot if they’re discovered, they steal away moments together. With her very life on the line, Eve has to decide if she can trust the guard she’s falling for.
DEFECT, young adult romance takes place in the near-future.
It is a survivalist love story.
Welcome to the future where “The Medical Revolution” has created a segregated society that categorizes citizens into a new social stratus: “Sleeper,” “Reject,” and the rare “Defect.” Technology has enabled the government to perform a “mindscan” on all individuals when they turn sixteen. The purpose of the mindscan is to identify individuals who have a criminal mindset, mental disorders, or medical diseases and to isolate them from the general population.
Now, forty years after the revolution, students are taught that “removing flawed humans from the mating pool…is a way to cleanse society of both mentally inadequate beings.” The results of your mindscan determine your place in society. Sleepers are deemed fit for society, while Rejects are sent to military training. Defects, well, the government doesn’t want to recognize Defects, but those rare few identified as such are locked away where they undergo further testing. Those unfortunate few who are not categorized as Sleepers lose their freedoms and can never return to their families or the life they once had.
When the story opens, it’s Eve Sterling’s “sweet sixteen” birthday, and she is accompanied by her mother to have the required mindscan. We experience the events of the story from Eve’s point-of-view, and this is effective in allowing us to care about Eve along her journey. By only having Eve’s perspective, the author kept my interest because I was never certain of who Eve could trust. When she chooses to confide in another character, I found myself cringing, wondering if that was a wise decision.
As Eve undergoes the procedure, her thoughts center around her mother’s advice: “Guard your mind.”
Eve’s results indicate that she is a Defect. At first she doesn’t understand what that means, since there are only two well-established categories: Sleepers and Rejects. Talk of Defects is kept hushed. She later learns that to be labeled a Defect means that the mindscan failed to read her mind. Eve, finally, begins to see the significance of her situation and the potential threat she poses to the government:
“Their technology didn’t work on me-I wasn’t sick, I wasn’t a criminal-but rather than admit that I’d somehow outsmarted them, they chose to lock me up and throw away the key. It fills me with rage.”
Initially, Eve spends her time either being tested or taking medication that forces her to sleep or just zone out.
Will is a trainer for Rejects who are forced into the military training program. Early on, it is obvious that he sees something in Eve. Aware of her current, dismal existence, he helps her by persuading his superior, O’Donovan, to allow Eve to train with them.
O’Donovan and Will appear to doubt her abilities, since her physicality immediately puts her at a disadvantage. She’s slightly over five-feet in height and weights around 100 lbs. Eve is aware that “… neither of them believes I can actually do this-become a fearless soldier-but I desperately want the chance to prove them wrong.”
Thus, Eve begins rigorous training for which she is grossly under prepared. She is immediately thrown into the midst of a training program where others are far ahead of her in their skill level.
As Eve struggles to complete the training, she must deal with some unexpected obstacles:
Will is a formidable trainer who easily intimidates the new recruits. However, he takes a special interest in Eve, helping her outside of the group’s training routine. He spends extra time training with Eve, taking her hiking in wooded areas, and teaching her survival skills.
Eve is skeptical of Will at first: Will is “the one person here…who seems to be looking out for me, and I still haven’t figured out his motive.” Even with doubts, Eve senses that he is a good person. She admits, “…his gaze could level you, and when he’s standing close, it’s like all the air’s been sucked from the room. Intense? Yes. But I’ve never felt scared of him.” Will is a strong, silent hero who keeps Eve guessing about his feelings toward her. At times, the intense attraction between the two is so overwhelming, I squirmed reading about it, especially the scene with Bad Company playing “Feel Like Makin Love” in the background.
Through their time together, Eve and Will fall for each other. The first time Will kisses Eve in the privacy of his dorm room, she exclaims,
“Will floods my senses. Just his physical presence overwhelms me. The stubble on his jaw, the feel of his strong hands against me, it’s all completely new and electrifying. “
Eve is an impressive heroine in the book. At the age of sixteen, she is forced into situations that she never imagined. Her world has been shattered, but she refuses to allow others to break her either emotionally or physically. She endures and conquers every obstacle set before her. Unfortunately, her success only puts her in greater danger. Rena, one of the guards who is sympathetic to Eve’s situation, warns her: “You are flaunting their failure with you right in their faces. And trust me, people are noticing.”
Once Will and Eve become aware that Eve is in imminent danger, they make a plan for Eve’s escape. Will is willing to put his own life at risk by helping Eve. He wants to save her life, and she wants to save his by persuading him to leave with her. His decision to leave is questionable. But Eve has no choice if she wants to survive.
The suspense builds as Eve seeks to escape and find safety with a group of Radicals, individuals who escaped during the revolution to live apart from society in the wilderness. Can Eve stay strong if she leaves Will behind? Can they find their way back to each other?
Can the government continue with their illusion of promising a better way of life?
The conclusion of the story was unexpected for me. I really expected more of a descriptive and developed resolution. There is so much material for expansion, and, before I reached the end, I just knew there would be a sequel. However the author chose an epilogue to wrap up the story. Readers who dislike books with cliff-hangers will probably find this a satisfactory conclusion.
Adults and young adults (YA’s) can appreciate the provocative questions explored in this book, regarding governmental control and individual freedom. As I read, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels between this government and the German dictatorship of Adolph Hitler, who wanted to eliminate “flawed” individuals from society to create a superior Aryan race. I can’t help but think of the well-known quote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” –George Santayana.
About Ryann Kerekes
Ryann Kerekes has a suggested song playlist for the book on her website; however, here are some songs that came to mind as I read this book:
Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb (Live 8)”
Bad Company “Feel Like Makin Love” –can’t forget this one!
Iced Earth “Dystopia (Official Video)”
“Enter the nightmare, this future does implore,
A techno city state, a prison nothing more.”
“With our technology, we’ll always keep you safe.”
From the mouths of babes:
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