I've got a twofer for you all today. The lovely people at Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers sent me both books to read and review here. I'm getting spoiled with the whole free book thing.
The only thing wrong with this series is that now I have to wait an entire year to read book 3. So much delayed gratification. I've got to tell you that I didn't see the plot going in the direction that it did. So here goes: Twelve years ago and every year since babies have been snatched from their biological parents and brought to Fredtown. Rosi and her brother Bobo have been nurtured with kindness, understanding, and a belief that all people are equal. They never realized that the Freds were not their birth parents. Soon after we start enjoying The Freds and their life philosophy we find all the children headed back to their birth parents, who aren't all that great- the town is called Cursed Town, so that was probably a given. The Enforcers, a cruel group of men, ensures that violent eruptions are managed in their birth town, and overall it's a challenging environment.
I suspected that this would kind of a younger kid Hunger Games-ish dystopia and was wrong. It is kind of obvious with the prejudice themes, but it's the ending that made me like it. In book one we also meet Rosi's friend Edwy who is the only other kid her age in Fredtown.
Edwy is a mystery in Book 1, and you don't get to figure him out until Book 2 which tells his story while continuing the plot. In book one he disappears after just 24 hours with the Watanabonesets (his last name) in Cursed Town and is ordered taken to Refuge City to attend a prestigious boarding school while living with the older brother and sister he has never met. Edwy is like the brattiest brat ever and although the boarding school turns out to be online where he has virtually no work to do and plenty of food, money, and freedom- he is still annoyed with everyone and everything. By the end of the book he had shaped up and I liked him a lot more.
I'm a huge fan of the Shadow Children series (also written by this author), and I'm going to withhold judgment over which is best until I read Book 3. I think kids will like it and it is a perfect rabbit trail jumping off point to study wars, religions, prejudices, etc.
If you've read it already hit me up on social media so that we can squeal together over the ending of Book 1 and someone, please explain to me why they are called The Freds- cause I don't get it.