I’m not usually a big reader of young adult fiction, but I’d read extracts of ‘Subject A36’, and could tell in the first few pages it was going to be a book I’d enjoy. And I was right.
‘Subject A36’ by author Teri Polen, is an extremely well-written story, set in a dystopian future/alternate timeline. Slightly reminiscent of the bleak unjust future in the Hunger Games series, Polen pits the Insurgents – a morally good group of people trying to survive – against the Colony, the overlords of this region, with superior tech, and a penchant for the finer things. Unfortunately, those finer things involve the very genes of the less fortunate being literally stripped from their living bodies. This so the Colony populace can have access to talents and traits they find desirable (such as blue eyes, intelligence, blonde hair). It’s a shudderingly gruesome concept that instantly gives the reader a reason to hate the Colony and get onboard with the Insurgents.
‘Subject A36’ follows Asher Solomon and his group of Insurgents as they battle to stay alive and save innocent people who’ve been taken by the Colony. But that’s only the start of this story. What follows is a writhing twisting journey into Asher’s past, and a tense explosion into his present that sets the stakes high, then higher, and higher still as the story builds to its conclusion.
Polen succeeded where few authors do, in making me jolt in surprise, not once, but twice throughout this story. I’m usually pretty good at seeing twists and turns, but Polen’s fresh narrative elevates what could have been a ‘good’ V ‘evil’ story in a unique and engaging way. There were two distinct points where I had to put the book down and say, ‘Wow. Didn’t see that coming.”
The characters are fleshed out, with even the supporting cast having interesting traits and unique voices. Backstory is elegantly dribbled out through the story, and the mystery of what subject A36 is, is handled very well – I love that the phrase subject A36 wasn’t even mentioned until at least a quarter way into the book.
I was very impressed with this story and this author. This was one of those books I had trouble putting down, and it made me late to work a couple of times! If you don’t read young adult, I’d still recommend grabbing ‘Subject A36’ – this is just an all-round good book, and one you’ll find something in that resonates with you. Among my top reads of 2020.
If you’re looking for some more good books by great authors, check out some of my Book Reviews here!