Book Review: The Culling by Steven dos Santos

I love a lot of books, so when people ask me what my favorite is, it is incredibly difficult for me to come up with a title. However, I think now I might finally be able to come up with an easy answer.

In The Culling by Steven dos Santos:

Lucian “Lucky” Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known as The Establishment. According to Establishment rules, if a recruit fails any level of the violent training competitions, a family member is brutally killed . . . and the recruit has to choose which one.

 

As the five recruits form uneasy alliances in the hellish wasteland that is the training ground, an undeniable attraction develops between Lucky and the rebellious Digory Tycho. But the rules of the training ensure that only one will survive—the strongest recruits receive accolades, wealth, and power while the weakest receive death.

 

With Cole—Lucky’s four-year-old brother—being held as “incentive,” Lucky must marshal all his skills and use his wits to keep himself alive, no matter what the cost.

The Culling portrays a bleak future after an apocalypse that has covered what seems to remain of the world in an Ash that causes many to die at an early age from a terrible coughing disease.

It is clear that Lucian cares very deeply for his little brother, Cole. After losing both parents, Cole is all he has left. When Cassius returns from his training, Lucian is eager to reconnect with his old friend in the hopes the he will help them.

Digory and Lucian are amazing characters who are strongly motivated for their own reasons. Their connection was deep and nearly instant, though it might not be clear to all readers what the connection might be until much later.

Though it is never stated implicitly, Lucian is indeed gay and has feelings for Digory. Their attraction towards each other grows throughout the novel, and despite the horror around them and the bleak outlook for their lives, there are moments of such heart breaking tenderness that I stopped and reread the scenes over to myself many times before moving on. Their shared moment under the stars, the dancing before their graduation ceremony… my heart still aches at the beautiful way the author portrayed these scenes.

I am glad this is the first book in a series, because I am in love. I want more from this author, and my only regret is that I can’t have more right now.

The Culling will be available for purchase on March 8, 2013, but it can be preordered now from Amazon.

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