Release date: 31st January 2013
Genre: Dystopia / Sci-Fi Thriller
Target audience: YA
UK Publisher: Simon and Schuster
The Disappeared is a futuristic page-turner. It’s full of high-octane action, brutality and suspense.
Jackson is a brainer and is studying to join the Leadership and fulfil his natural role in society. Like every student he took a Potential Test as a young child and was identified as a student fit for the Learning Community. But the perfect world (where everyone has a special role in society) which Jackson believes in is ripped away from him when he is asked to do a task for his Facilitator. Along with best friend Wilson, he takes a package to the darker part of town. There he and Wilson are set upon by two violent men. Jackson’s life rapidly slips away from him as when he returns to the Learning Community, they have erased all knowledge of him. Jackson is taken by the police to the Academy. To the outside community, the Academy is a school to prepare the less intellectual children for factory life. But Jackson soon finds out that the school is less about education and more about control and punishment. His new home is a prison.
I found this book so easy to read. Every chapter was a great length and ended with a twist, revelation or cliff-hanger. The pace of the novel was so well structured that I just couldn’t stop reading on. I felt that I was racing through the story.
As you’d expect of the dystopian genre, the young people are the mercy of the government officials, their teachers – the Enforcers and the system created to keep them down-trodden. The students at the Academies are known as Specials and they have their own hierarchy. Every week there are organised fights where even the youngest pupils compete for a rank. There is violence and brutality in this book. There is murder and abuse. It is a chilling portrayal of a future where an underclass is treated like caged animals.
One of the ways the young people are controlled is the threat of the Wilderness. They are told scary stories of the Wilderness as children and the worst offenders are banished from the Academy and never return from their exile in the Wilderness. The story is not all darkness though. There is hope in the friendships that Jackson makes in the Academy and the students’ desire to learn and be more than the animals they are treated like.
If I’m honest I would have preferred more thriller elements to the novel than dystopian ones. But that is just my personal taste. I wanted there to be something more to the title really: “the disappeared”. I wanted a juicier reason for them being erased. But don’t let that dissuade you from reading this book. It is a gripping and tautly written debut.
Recommended for fans of:
- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Source: Review copy from Simon and Schuster. Thank you.