The Culling - A different kind of YA book. A review and an interview with Steven dos Santos

April 5, 2013 | Tatted Librarian

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12617286About three months ago, my colleague, Scott, sent out a blast on facebook asking people to read and review his friend's book, The Culling. Being a nice friend that I am, I told him that I would.  I picked up the book finished and finished it in about 48 hours. I couldn't put it down.  Let me tell you a bit about The Culling.

Lucky Sparks lives in the Parish, an  impoverished city within the Establishment.  Once a year, the Parish holds an event called, “the Recruitment.”  Five "lucky" citizens get drafted into a 6 weeks training program for their chance to enter into the elite military.  To ensure that the recruits go through with this process, the Establishment holds two relatives or friends of the candidate as hostage.  These people are the candidate’s Incentives to finish the program.  Not only are these Incentives meant to ensure that they compete in the trials, but serve to ensure that they elicit the best performance from the candidates. Lose a challenge and the Recruit must choose between their Incentives.  By an unlucky chance, Lucian gets Recruited into this process.

Fair warning: The Culling is a dark and scary read.  I, an avid horror fan, had to stop reading the book for a minute or two to catch my breath before going onto the next chapter/page/paragraph/sentence. When I finished reading the book, I read it again, because I wanted the story to go on. You can imagine how happy I was to hear that this novel would be the first in a series. 

While the setting of The Culling makes most other dystopian worlds look like a nice trip to the petting zoo, there is another amazing feature of this story line.  The Culling takes place in a world where being being gay, lesbian, bisexuals transgendered isn't a big deal. While Lucky is gay, the story doesn't revolve around getting people to accept him, the plot is rather focused on him surviving his trials.

Q&A with Steven dos Santos!

I was so intrigued by The Culling's world and characters that I approached Steven dos Santos, the author, and asked for him an interview.  He agreed.

Question: What prompted you to write The Culling?
I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi movies and books, particularly stories that deal with moral dilemmas. Ever since I was a kid I was always terrified by the idea of what would happen if I was in a situation where I could only save one person that I loved. Who would I choose? How would I choose in such an impossible situation? Writing The Culling gave me a chance to explore that no-win scenario and grapple with my own nightmares.