D.M. Dutcher 's Reviews > HELPER12

HELPER12 by Jack Blaine
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May 13, 2012

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bookshelves: dystopia, young-adult
Read in May, 2012

Short, somewhat different take on the typical dystopia. Benna is a Helper, a person who cares for infants in a dystopian society where you are tracked for a career at birth if you are the proletarian class, and you live under pain of death if you do something as simple as draw for a hobby. One day a rich upper class woman decides to "buy" one of the tracked babies for some unknown reason, and she also gets Benna in the deal.

It's a different take because there is no fighting against a corrupt government, no love triangle, and no empowerment. Benna acts like someone who would really exist in a dystopia: she doesn't rebel, but just lives and steals small pleasures when she can. It's less about plot and more of a character study, and a pretty good one too in my opinion. Thomas is well done, as a decent member of Society who is being torn apart just as much as Benna. Some people may not like this though, as there really isn't that much action, and Benna herself is very restricted in what she can do by nature. It's a little more realistic though. She isn't Katniss, a semi-independent hunter: she's just a young woman who would work in the modern equivalent of day care. Those are often not the stuff of revolutions.

It is brief though, and as others have mentioned, they never explained why it happened in the first place. The ending is also a bit easy: without getting much into spoilers, you'd think a society that would track babies would also keep a closer eye on travel. Others have mentioned editing errors, but considering that I tend to read fast on the first read I admit I must have missed them. When I edit I read my works multiple times, often ten or more, so this is more my failure to pick them up due to reading style than any argument about their nonexistence.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. If you look at it more as a character study I think you'll like it more. If you expect dystopian novels to be more action-packed and about righting wrongs, you'll dislike it and the main character, since she is passive and with limited options.
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