Today I am reviewing YA novel, The Boy I Am by KL Kettle. Many thanks to KL and Little Tiger Group for my copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.
They say we’re dangerous. But we’re not that different.
Jude is running out of time. Once a year, lucky young men in the House of Boys are auctioned to the female elite. But if Jude fails to be selected before he turns seventeen, a future deep underground in the mines awaits.
Yet ever since the death of his best friend at the hands of the all-powerful Chancellor, Jude has been desperate to escape the path set out for him. Finding himself entangled in a plot to assassinate the Chancellor, he finally has a chance to avenge his friend and win his freedom. But at what price?
A speculative YA thriller, tackling themes of traditional gender roles and power dynamics, for fans of Malorie Blackman, Louise O’Neill and THE POWER.
Set in a dystopian world where women rule all and boys/men are nothing, simply toys paraded in pageants to the highest bidder, The Boy I Am presents an interesting twist on the sexual inequalities faced in this world.
Although the physical world in which Jude lives is not explained in great detail it is instantly captivating and I quickly formed an image of it in my head and it soon became clear that it is a world where no one is safe. It is an incredibly insular society, with an in-built fear of the ravaged world outside meaning that there really is no place to hide or escape to.
Throughout the book there are lots of little nods to the role reversal from the world we know – the swimsuit round in the pageant, never asking a man their age, assuming men can’t understand science or politics, women manhandling men and laughing about it with their friends. Whilst these made me chuckle at times, they were also food for thought, as I realised that although some comments and actions addressed towards Jude and his companions shocked me as I read them, in real life I just accept them as the norm.
My own unconscious bias came into play whilst I was reading this, as I had assumed that the author was male and was really surprised to discover I was wrong. K.L. Kettle has created a world that is both thought-provoking and deeply unsettling, and I look forward to reading what she writes next.