FERTS by Grace Hudson
FERTS is a dystopian future story based in a compound controlled by a man called Wilcox, where women are raised and conditioned as property for the male populous outside. Each girl is assigned a category based on physical attributes; the beautiful train in seduction techniques and hope to be bought by the local townsfolk and bear their children, the strong provide entertainment through fights and the others perform manual labour within the compound. None of them want to be in Zeta Circuit, which is the lowest class of all.
The main character, Beth 201, doesn’t quite fit in to any category and does not want to conform. After some triggering events (which I won’t spoil here) she begins to rebel against her surroundings and regime. As we learn more about her character and past it becomes more obvious why, and her realisation and reactions are well realised. The past of the controller is also explored, and gives good insight to his motivations and actions. I’m a fan of proper fleshed-out antagonists so this ticked all the boxes for me in that regard.
The book deals with issues such as the obsession with looks, ownership of and violence against women, and rape (there is a strong theme of that throughout the book). If anyone says yes because they don’t have a choice, then it’s not really yes.
A few comments. After an exciting opening chapter, the second one is a huge non-POV info-dump which came as a bit of a shock. I would have preferred the information on how the compound works to be given more naturally through the text. The character of Titan (a newly transferred guard) would have been a good way to have done this. Similarly, two other characters are introduced around chapter 36 (the chapters are very short) and have adventures in one block rather than their scenes being spread out throughout the book which would have allowed the various plot threads to meet up more gradually. On a couple of occasions, I also found it a bit confusing on which character was speaking due to the formatting.
This book seems to be the first in a series, and I hope that the sequels will explain more of the central mechanic of how Beth 201 can be aware of events outside her experience, as in this book it comes across as a bit of a convenient plot device.
Still, the above are minor issues and don’t detract from the story as a whole. I read the entire book in less than a weekend so it must have gripped me! I look forward to reading the next one.
Disclaimer and disclosure. This book was bought by me from Amazon.co.uk through BooksGoSocial.com. All opinions are my own, and I am receiving no payment for the review, either by financial or review-swap means.