My rating: 4 of 5 stars
High above the streets, the skyscrapers in the cities of the American Union exude wealth, luxury, and for the privileged few, immortality. Those with the means to take Communion are immune to the diseases and risks that ravage those who live outside the city walls. While life is a struggle for the less affluent, their existence is subsidized by the rich. Food and medicine are cheap, transportation is free–and for those with needed skills–indentured servitude to the wealthy or to the government can buy your own expanded longevity. They are two different worlds, and those above and those below share little in common except for one thing: A love for the Professional Seeder matches, where immortal combatants fight until only one is left standing.
With two weeks left before her sixteenth birthday, Punk Jordan lives out the last days of her mortal existence by competing in underground Seeder matches where only the best martial artists excel and the rules stop the moment the match begins. The daughter of William Jordan, founder of the company that makes the Communion drug, Punk’s elevation to immortality is guaranteed and a life of fame and wealth on the professional circuit awaits. But when those closest to her–including her own mentally ill mother–turn out to be part of a heretical anti-government movement, her comfortable life is shattered. To protect those she loves the most, Punk flees the only home she’s ever known and is forced to make choices that weigh family against compassion, privilege against promises and love against immortality itself.
I read this book a while back, so my recollection isn’t as great as it could be. (That is my disclaimer.)
This book reminded me of the Hunger Games a little bit. They both have these strong female leads who do things that they thought themselves incapable of doing for the ones they love.
Punk Jordan is basically a good person who has the means to do for others and enjoys doing so. At least that’s what she tells herself. So what if helping others less fortunate than herself upsets her father? That’s just an added bonus. When a very important person comes to dinner, Punk’s mother loses it at the dinner table and Punk stands up for her. Which means she embarrasses her father in front of important company.
That night, her fighting instructor tells her she needs to run and meet up some dodgy people, because only they can get her mother out of the mess she’s in. So ensues a chase and a battle of wills that has her distrusting everyone and everything she knows.
Punk is a good character, but not one that I can really relate to. I think her path to self discovery would have been more believable if she hadn’t always rebelled against her father. If she had been obedient and trusting of the people around her in the first place, the disillusion would have been more heartbreaking and a much better read, to be honest. Suffering all those betrayals would have had an extra “oomph” for me if I could have believed she had truly thought her world was perfect before she was forced to leave home. As it stands, the situations she found herself in felt self-made.
Also, the love triangle is just unbelievable. I understand she is a teenager, but we are led to believe that she understands way more about her world than the average 16-year-old in her place. So why then is she falling for a guy who held her at gunpoint after 24 hours? That was just so implausible it made me feel awkward reading those passages. I could understand her finding him appealing and thinking he would make a great friend/ally. But feeling more for him than that? There’s no way. Not for me anyway.
I received this book as a Goodreads First Read.