Book Review: The Prey

The Prey (The Hatchery #1)
Author: Tom Isbell 
Published By: HarperTeen 
Publication Date: 25 January 2015 
Page Count: 416 
Source: Hard Cover sent from the publisher 
Audience: Young Adult – Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian

I love the imaginations that authors of Dystopian fiction show us in their stories. They show us what the world could be like if some awful catastrophe struck the entire planet. Tom Isbell does that with his debut novel, The Prey. I can only hope that he doesn't really think the world will be like this one day.

The Prey takes place twenty years after a huge burst of electromagnetic radiation sweeps across the planet, frying anything electronic. Boys and girls are living in separate camps. The boys think they are being raised to be officers, the girls are horribly experimented on. Then one day a new boy shows up in camp and shatters the other teens delusions.

The boys are known as LT's - not short for Lieutenant as they thought - Less Thans being raised to become prey, to be hunted for sport by rich men. The boys decide to escape the camp and set off of a treacherous journey across the western part of the Republic of the True American to get to a new territory, where it will hopefully be better.

The girls are also trying to escape their own hell on earth, as they repeatedly call it. Without giving too much away, the girls and boys meet up and join forces to survive the harsh lands they must cross to make it to the new territory.

In many ways, this feels like the Nazi's and Hitlers reign in Europe. The Less Thans are any boy that is different: skin color, deformities from the radiation, political differences, etc. I like how Isbell has created this correlation. I imagine much of what happens to these teens, boy and girl, could possibly have happened in the Nazi Interment camps. It's a harsh reality that this book might not be far off from the truth.

It would sound weird to say I enjoyed reading about the hardships that these teens went through, the horrible memories they already have at 16, but I did enjoy the story, the creative imagination that Isbell has. It was easy to picture the struggles they went through, not only from the men chasing them, but from nature itself. He shows us how the radiation could have effected the wildlife, something many people may not even consider.

Isbell has created dozens of memorable characters, each with their own personalities, and he does a good job of distinguishing them all, from the teen boys and girls in both camps to the officers in charge to the doctors, hunters, and crazies who live off the land. You only get backstories on a handful of them, but they are still all well developed. Several of the kids die along the journey, and my only regret is that I wasn't really attached enough to care when they did, possibly because there are so many characters. I think I would have been more heartbroken if the stray dog they adopted had died.

I am looking forward to reading the continuing trilogy and finding out what happens to this group of ragged teens. Isbell has left a lot of unanswered questions that I need the answers to.

One Last Thought: Isbell breaks up the chapters between the two main characters, Book and Hope. One chapter is Book, the next is Hope. The way he does it is actually quite annoying to read. Book's chapters are written in first person point of view, past tense. Hope's chapters are written in third person present tense. I am ok with the switching points of view, I have read many books like that, but when you also throw in the tense changes that's where I have issues. It makes the flow of the book stop and go because you are constantly having to rethink the way you read it and that's not a fun way to read. And then you add in the fact that several times the author forgets what tense he is writing in and a sentence here or there is changed.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I love the loyalty that these kids show to each other throughout their struggles and journey.  Strangers bonding and working together to survive.

First Sentence: Blood drips from fingertips, splashing the floor.

Favorite Character: Book

Least Favorite Character: Dr. Gallingham

A hot debut trilogy and a riveting story of survival, courage, and romance in a future where creating a master civilization is the only thing prized, no matter the method. After the Omega (the end of the end), 16 year old guys known as LTs discover their overseers are raising them not to be soldiers (lieutenants) as promised, but to be sold as bait because of their Less Than status and hunted for sport. They escape and join forces with a girls’ camp, the Sisters, who have been imprisoned and experimented on for the "good of the Republic," by a government eager to use twins in their dark research. In their plight for freedom, these heroes must find the best in themselves to fight against the worst in their enemies.