Book Review: Tankborn by Karen Sandler

TankbornKaren Sandler- Tankborn

Format- ebook

Source- review copy/ Netgalley

Publication date: 28th September 2011

Synopsis: 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.

Review: Tankborn is an enjoyable YA scifi novel. Set on the planet Loka, there is a hierarchical society in place, headed by the Trueborns, then lower in society are the Lowborns and at the bottom of the pyramid are the Genetically Engineered Non-humans (GENs). GENs are distinct in features due to the tattoo on their cheek where data can be downloaded and extracted from their brain. Their DNA is mixed with animal DNA and they are grown in a tank instead of a human uterus which classifies them as ‘non-humans,’ and so are outcasted from society and monitored like prisoners.

Kayla and Mishalla are GENs, who at age fifteen have reached the age where they are sent out on assignment. Kayla’s animal DNA contributes to her extra human strength and she is assigned as the caretaker of an old Trueborn, Zul. A romance develops between Kayla and Jul’s son, Devak. Mishalla is sent off on assignment to a children’s orphanage where children mysteriously disappear in the night. Mishalla and Kayla soon realise there is corruption in the ranks of GEN tracking and Zul wants their help to find out what.

The underlying theme of Tankborn is the social status and race that is evident in the story. There is prejudice and outcasting and the impact of this on Kayla and Mishalla is clearly unfair.

I really liked the premise of this story and thought the world created by the author was engaging and created a vivid picture for me in my mind. However, the plotting was slow and there wasn’t enough suspense to gage my attention throughout the story. The romance that develops between Devak and Kayla is a little flat and I failed to feel any kind of emotional connection to Kayla. She seemed to have a lot going on but she was almost robotic and just didn’t come to life for me. The twists at the end were unexpected and left the story open-ended for a sequel.

Tankborn is an YA scifi novel that sheds light on serious issues within a world that is creative and intriguing. It was originally created as a screenplay by the author and then was novelized. I think Tankborn on the big screen would make a great film!

3/5 rating

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