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The Culling (The Torch Keeper #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  914 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die...

For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next leve
Paperback, 421 pages
Published March 8th 2013 by Flux (first published March 1st 2013)
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Allegiant by Veronica RothClockwork Princess by Cassandra ClareThe Indigo Spell by Richelle MeadRequiem by Lauren OliverThe Elite by Kiera Cass
YA Novels of 2013
132nd out of 1,520 books — 10,844 voters
Splintered by A.G. HowardTaken by Erin BowmanMILA 2.0 by Debra DrizaThe Madman’s Daughter by Megan ShepherdThe Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell
YA Debuts 2013
53rd out of 513 books — 2,461 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Emily May
Feb 13, 2013 Emily May rated it did not like it

There's this word we use in Britain and, judging by the puzzled looks on the faces of my University's international students, it is quite possible it isn't used anywhere else. The word is gutted. Not gutted like gutting a fish - though I'm sure that's where it comes from - but gutted as in extremely disappointed. Gutted as in "I'm gutted" at having my year-long trip plans ruined by a bout of unexpected snow (also a British thing as other places seem to know how to cope with bad weather. Here it
shady boots
This review is also available over at my blog.


Okay, I think I've recovered. I think.

The first time I'd heard about this book, I was excited because it was a YA dystopian with a GLBT romance, which I've been waiting aaaages for. So I was ecstatic when I saw this on NetGalley and when the publisher approved me for it.

Little did I know what a wild, insane ride this book was going to be.

My emotions were splattered all over the walls and floors non-stop as I read this. Because l
Nicole Sweeney
Jan 08, 2013 Nicole Sweeney rated it did not like it
Shelves: arc
Review originally written for

In a nutshell: The Hunger Games with a gay romance and a million times more contrivance!

Main Character: Lucky can apparently read all of your emotions in your eyes. Like, he can tell you entire paragraphs worth of your back story, because he saw you look at something. You were clearly looking longingly at that cupcake, but can never have it because of some deep traumat
Sep 02, 2013 Micah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: micah-s-faves
Join The Culling Official fan Forum


This book was amazing and I am so annoyed that it is over with already. I have to read this again because my mind and my heart couldn't take it.

Here's my review

1. Plot & The Writing & Pacing: A plus
Let's get this out the way...Yes, the book is very hunger games like. The Whole Recruits(Tributes) thing is very similar. Except unlike in HG & even a book like divergent, the stakes are higher.

In H
Tori (InToriLex)
Find this and other Reviews at InToriLex

Actual Rating 2.5 Stars

I tried my hardest to give this book a fair chance, considering there are a lot of critiques centered around how similar this was to hunger games. Unfortunately the writing and ideas involved seemed better on their own, then working together to give a compelling narrative. Lucky the protagonist who has to work to save his brother just did not connect with me in a meaningful way. I did appreciate the non-straight romance, but even th
Jul 28, 2015 Mel rated it it was amazing

You can also see this review posted on my blog thatgirlbookworm

READ. THIS. BOOK. PLEASE. I beg of you.

So I was looking at my favourite books and realized I didn't write a review for The Culling which is weird to me.
The Culling is a dystopian novel that follows a boy named Lucian "Lucky" Spark. He gets chosen to participate in these trials that the government has to pick one new military/government/army person a year.
This book is one of my favourite books in the world. It is a LGBT novel but i
Feb 08, 2014 Burak rated it it was amazing
Okuduğum en iyi distopyalardan biriydi hatta en iyiyi zorlar bile. Uyumsuzdan kat kat iyi. Açlık oyunlarıyla kafa kafaya yarışır hatta. Fazla acımasız ve fazlasıyla gerçekçi. Asker olarak yetiştirilecek 5 genç var ve bu 5 gencin sevdiği iki kişi esir alınıyor. Daha sonra bunları önce eğitime daha sonrada testlere tabi tutuyorlar ve hata yapmaları halinde sevdikleri iki kişiden birini seçip ölümüne neden oluyorlar. Her hatanın sonucunda seçim yapmak zorunda bırakılmaları o kadar acımasız ki. Hele ...more
Dec 27, 2015 Bailey rated it it was amazing
The salt air stings my eyes. "Not every story has a happy ending, but that doesn't mean it's not worth telling." I turn away. Concentrating on the brightest star I can find, I hope he won't notice I'm doing everything possible not to give in to the ache I feel for my brother.
"I wonder what it could be like, Lucian, to love someone so totally, know, so powerfully, that even the stars can't contain themselves from proclaiming that love for everyone to see," he says softly. "It must be t
Jennifer Lavoie
I love a lot of books, so when people ask me what my favorite is, it is incredibly difficult for me to come up with a title. However, I think now I might finally be able to come up with an easy answer.

In The Culling by Steven dos Santos:

Lucian “Lucky” Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known as The Establishment. According to Establishment rules, if a recruit fails any level of the violent training competitions, a family member is brutally killed . . . and the r
Amy Acosta
Feb 28, 2013 Amy Acosta rated it really liked it
Lucian’s little brother, Cole, calls him Lucky which is sort of ironic in the world they live in. But Lucian still does whatever is in his power to keep Cole happy, and innocent and believing in things like faery tales. Then, after a bad turn of fate, Lucian is betrayed and drafted to participate in The Recruitment. He will have to do everything in his power to win the trials that await him if he hopes to see his brother again. But winning the trials would mean eliminating all competition, incl ...more
Jan 02, 2013 Charlotte rated it liked it
Thanks to the success of the Hunger Games young adult dystopian fiction is seeing an influx of similar storylines. The Culling is one of these. The plot and its evolution are remarkable similar. A teenage boy has to fight against other kids in a government sponsored contest in a post-apocalyptic world with his younger brother’s life in the balance.

Steven dos Santos does a credible job creating the world for the reader and providing some interesting characters and back stories. The main problem i
Apr 22, 2012 Jodi rated it it was amazing
I marked this as to-read but had the ultimate pleasure of reading the original, pre-published draft already. I know this book is amazing. I absolutely recommend this book to EVERYONE. An awesome dystopian YA featuring gay characters - YAY!!!
Feb 27, 2013 Cay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt-ya
4.5 stars

The Culling is a book that I have been itching to read, ever since I first heard of it a few months back. Why? Because it's a dystopian novel with a gay protagonist! Dystopian is one of my favorite sub-genre within the young adult genre, and I'll also admit a huge passion for GLBT novels. A gay-themed dystopian YA is something I'd never heard of before, but it sounded amazeballs. So I was absolutely psyched for Santos' debut novel, and when it popped up on Netgalley, I jumped on it rig
Sarah Kalaitzidis
Oct 23, 2013 Sarah Kalaitzidis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: dystopia
Originally Posted on: http://howlingbooksanddesign.blogspot...

This dystopian tale is plain crazy! I think it can best be described as as "Hunger Games" with a "Battle Royale" twist. I loved the book, but I found the ending a bit depressing. It leaves you wonder the fate of our main character, Lucky (Lucien). After the trails these characters go through I don’t know how they would come out sane. I think I would go crazy by what happen.

"The Culling" takes place in the town of Perish, which is unde
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
1.5 stars

This is like The Hunger Games without the character, plot, or world development, and with writing that smacks of senior high school English. I was so excited for this book to come out, because it's dystopia, and it's YA; it's dystopian YA! What not to like, right? A lot, as it turns out.

My first clue was that the Kindle edition cost only $5; that is almost always a bad sign. dos Santos writes in the 1st person present, and the narrative is full of awkward, eye-roll-inducing metaphors.
Wandering Librarians
Lucian Sparks lives in a world ruled by the Establishment, a cruel, dictatorial government. Wanting to protect his four-year-old brother Cole, Lucian seeks out his childhood friend Cassius, who is now in a position of power, for help. But when Cassius thinks Lucian has chosen rebel Digory Tycho over him, he punishes Lucian by making both Digory and Lucian recruits, who are forced to compete against each other in a series of task. If a recruit fails, he is punished by choosing an incentive - a lo ...more
★MC's Corner★

"Not every story has a happy ending, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth telling."


“What could be worse than having the person you love not want to have anything to do with you?”


"...But the moment you stop believin
Michelle Huot
Jul 13, 2015 Michelle Huot rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I literally cried multiple times throughout this book. It really disappoints me though when my friends refuse this book as a recommendation because they presume it is going to be exactly like the Hunger Games. Sure, there are many similarities between the two series' plots. However, in my opinion, The Culling makes more logical sense in regards to the plot line and setting, etc. In my attempts to not spoil the entire novel, this is definitely not another novel to wave away for its somewhat famil ...more
May 20, 2013 Alyssa rated it it was amazing
i love this book, it was similar to the hunger games when it comes to an apparent totalitarian society but that's where it ends. This book was so much more realistic and darker than the hunger games. The romance in this book is just too perfect for words. I can't wait for the next book.
Chris Horsefield
Nov 05, 2012 Chris Horsefield rated it it was amazing
This is a great book, I find it hard to find an action YA book with a gay character, this book has everything, a great story, great characters and a good pace. I am an instant fan of Steven dos Santos.
Mar 29, 2014 Stephanie rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013-ya-debuts, ya-mg
"Not every story has a happy ending, but that doesn't mean it's not worth telling."

Jan 23, 2014 Elizabetta marked it as 2-read-next-2  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, dystopia, grh
A gay YA dystopian novel out March 2013. I'm so there!
Chloe (Girl In The Woods Reviews)
Detailed Review: First things, first.


When I read the first part of the book, I was thinking whether Lucian was really gay or something. Then again, I continued my voyage through the sea of words and I realized that - "Lucian is gay". I find it hard to believe but yet it is undeniable - that the author had actually written his main character as someone who is gay but it's fascinating to see how it turns out.

How the story unfurls into a world where the weak must die and the strong
4.25 stars

I was never an avid reader of YA fiction, not even when I was the 'right' age for it. Thematically, they rarely captured my interest and imagination. However, that doesn't mean there weren't any – Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers or Aterovis's Bleeding Hearts are just two of those I could mention. In the end, a good book is a good book – it captures your attention regardless of your age or interests. And The Culling is a good book and exceptional debut novel.

The civilization as we know it h
Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books)
The Culling is a very dark and gritty story. It has gore, it has emotions out the wazoo, it has characters put in impossible situations, forced to make choices that kids should never, ever have to make, and I could not take my eyes from the page.
While I liked the book and respected what Lucky was trying to do for his little brother, I was pretty confused at the beginning. When you have a world and a government that is different from ours now, there needs to be some explanation of what exactly
Jeff Erno
Although not exactly easy to categorize, The Culling by Steven Dos Santos is a remarkable book. The futuristic setting, within an environment that is desolate and bleak, under the iron-fisted rule of a totalitarian government, suggests the story is a dystopia. Yet it is not immediately clear on which world the story is set, be it real or imaginary. Though all the central characters are young adult, the story itself depicts intensely graphic and horrific scenes that are grotesque, gruesome, and f ...more
Mar 22, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
I'd been eyeing The Culling ever since I first saw it pop up on Goodreads. I'm a huge fan of dystopian novels, but never in my reading history had I seen one with a gay male protagonist! Let's be honest, male leads are few and far between in dystopia as it is. One from the LBGT community though? Unheard of. Thus I couldn't help but jump up and down with glee when I was given the opportunity to read an early copy of this book. Even better? It absolutely didn't disappoint!

Now before you lament ove
Joanne♥~Bookworm Extraordinaire
OMG I love loved loved this book. It was so amazing!It had everything a great dystopian book should have: a repressive government, family love, a love interest, friends, hardships, violence and success. It had characters you love and characters you hate. It makes you fell an array of emotions: love, hate, sadness, happiness, despair.

Basically the book is about the government called the Establishment, who rules the country with an iron fist. The police called imposers are able to do whatever the
Jan 10, 2013 Sabriena rated it really liked it

This book, The Culling, was not what I expected when I read the summary and then started reading reviews of others. First I want to say that I have seen a lot of reviews say that this is just like the Hunger Games. I was following their mindset until Lucian became one of The Recruitment which is within the first 50 pages. I want to say, this book is nothing like Hunger Games except that they are young and in this type of scenario. The government is the one providing this yes, however, nothing l
Originally posted on Once Upon a Bookcase.

I had wanted to read The Culling since Brodie of Eleusinian Mysteries mentioned it in a Waiting on Wednesday post. When I saw it available on NetGalley, I requested it straight away and was reminded that the protagonist is gay. I just knew I had to review it for LGBTQ YA Month, and I'm so glad I did! This book is AMAZING!

Lucian "Lucky" Sparklives in a dystopian police state, where, once teenagers reach the age of 16, they are entered into the ballot to b
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Steven dos Santos is author of THE TORCH KEEPER novels, a Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic series. Book One, THE CULLING, was released by FLUX Books in March of 2013, and named an American Library Association 2014 Rainbow List Top Ten Selection. Book Two, THE SOWING, was released on March 8, 2014. Steven is currently finalizing Book 3 of The Torch Keeper series, THE RAISING. His new novel, DAGGER, a Y ...more
More about Steven dos Santos...

Other Books in the Series

The Torch Keeper (2 books)
  • The Sowing (The Torch Keeper, #2)

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“Not every story has a happy ending, but that doesn't mean it's not worth telling.” 25 likes
“I lean forward and pinch his nostrils closed again, press my lips to his, and blow in more air. I think about all those times he stole my breath away. Why doesn't he use it now?” 13 likes
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