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The Boy I Am

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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.

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 7, 2021

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K.L. Kettle

1 book23 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 113 reviews
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
440 reviews254 followers
January 18, 2021
My name is Jude Grant and I am alive.
Put this YA on your TBR, buy it! It’s mind blowing, unique, gripping and beautifully written. Swapping gender roles, the world turned upside down. Underage boys being sold to female elite at an auction. And if not, a future in the mines awaits.

Sometimes I start reading a book, doubting if I would like it. Like this one. But from the moment I read one page of The Boy I Am, I knew it would be a five star read, easily. It gripped me from the first sentence when Jude introduced himself, the auction so realistic, Jude smiling so he would be sold, and constantly talking in his mind to Vik, his best friend.
’Pull it together’, says the part of me that sounds like you, Vik. And it’s strong like you were. Brave like you were. It’s the voice of the boy I want to be. ‘You owe me’, it says. ‘You’re still alive’.

This is a powerful story, not only because of the premise, but also because of the writing, first person, including talking to a second person (Vik) in one without the person being present. Incredibly clever to do so. First person writing can feel close and personal but this writing is almost oppressive, pulling the reader into the story, and not letting go until the last page.

Jude lost his friend Vik, and he wants revenge. Therefore he needs to be sold to the Chancellor. He wants to murder her for what she did to Vik, just push her over the edge. The story thunders on from the first moment, the pace incredibly fast. From the auction to the Chancellor to a beauty pageant including flashbacks, describing Jude’s past and his friendship with Vik. The flashbacks are moving and my heart ached:
There’s that boy somewhere, the boy who danced, the one they told not to, the one they locked away until he stopped. And he’s been such a good boy.

There’s so much I’d like to say about Jude and the people around him including Vik. I won’t though because I don’t want to spoil anything. But believe me, this story is thrilling and poignant and important. The way men and boys are being treated feels inhuman. But women have been treated like this for centuries, dominated by men, no right to education, sexually assaulted etc. And that’s precisely what K.L. Kettle wants us to experience. Evoking the disturbing feeling that this can’t be true. But it has been, and still is. This book is about women versus men. But it could also be about Black versus white or any other example where inequality exists. Because we all should be equal, right?

The only thing I’m not sure of is the cover, it’s a bit garish to my opinion, but who cares when the content is so magnificent?

I received an ARC from Little Tiger Press Group and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for K.L. L Kettle.
Author 1 book23 followers
February 3, 2021
I may be biased, but I read this book several times and I think it's quite good.
Profile Image for scottiesandbooks.
199 reviews19 followers
January 23, 2021
“It’s not like it doesn’t happen to every boy. A grab here. A grope there. Small belittling moments we’re meant to endure, because it’s girls being girls. Shouldn’t we be grateful? Flattered? And when they don’t even know they did anything wrong, what? We’re meant to apologise?”

The Handmaids Tale
Noughts & Crosses
The Hunger games

What do these books have in common? The subject matter. Suppression. Suppression of women, a race, a class. All powerful novels set in a dystopian world. The messages are strong and make us look within, show us what could be, what has been and what is happening now around the world. The Boy I Am reverses the gender roles and shows us the world after a Great War. The war between women and men, where women triumphed and formed a female elite.

Men are now merely slaves; objects of a woman’s desire where they are auctioned in the “house of boys” to the highest bidder. Failure to be chosen, means spending the rest of their lives in the mines.

One boy- Jude, and a group intent on creating an uprising could mean the change of everything...........

“My name is Jude Grant and I am alive”

Cannot thank Kaleidoscopic tours and Little Tiger books for providing me with a copy of this book for an honest review. What an amazing start to my reading year and one that will sit with me for a very very long time! KL Kettle has successfully flipped gender roles on their head and given us an extreme “what if scenario”. What if women were the “superior sex”? It shows how in the fight for equal rights, either side could go too far. And at what price?

Badass characters throughout. Well thought out down to every movement, every phrase. KL Kettle is an absolute genius and I praise her for this amazing debut novel!

I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of any of the books I have listed above. I pray for a sequel, and a movie! I predict this is the start of a very successful franchise! And I am SOLD!!
Profile Image for Vee_Bookish.
1,264 reviews279 followers
June 1, 2021
Wordpress Blog | Twitter

I feel like I'm always waiting for YA Dystopia to make a reappearance, but when it does I end up disappointed. This is a genderswapped take on the genre, that for me, failed to pack the punch it needed to make me truly invested in the story.

I felt strangely detached from the story for the entirety of the book, the way Jude described the world of the House Of Boys was always lacking in description, making it hard to picture it fully and the world building suffered as a result.

The main plot was the unsolved mystery between Jude and his former friend (or lover?) Vik. Vik has disappeared, and I felt like the ending events didn't resolve their story fully, or gave Jude any closure, which left the story open to a future sequel (at the time of writing this, the book appears to be a standalone).

I felt that Ro was a more interesting character that could have really added a much needed voice to the other world that was in control of the House Of Boys. Had this been a dual POV, I feel my rating would have been much higher. But Ro only seemed to serve the purpose of moving Jude's story forward and directing him where he needed to go.

I felt at the time that the final pages where very well written, and one of the better endings I'd read to a story. However, after digesting everything that happened I have more questions left than answers, but I don't feel invested enough in the story to pick up a potential future sequel.
Profile Image for Kristel Greer.
517 reviews14 followers
January 18, 2021
I was sent a copy of this book for review.
Boys are born into indentured servitude. They are constantly told they need to be controlled due to their dangerous base nature, simple minds and lack of worth, while in fact it’s the women that sexually, physically and mentally abuse them. They are created solely to live in degradation and submission.

At 16, Jude Grant is in his final year of eligibility to be selected at Auction. This is his last chance to be chosen by the rich women up in the Tower and become a Ward. If he isn’t picked he will be deemed too old to try again, untrainable and a threat to women. He will be sent to the mines where he will most likely die from harsh conditions. Jude has been coached on what to say, how to perform and how to seek the attention of the Chancellor to become her Ward. He has been shown how to do this not to attain an easier life but to get close to her in order to assassinate her. As events unfold we learn the harrowing story of Jude's childhood traumatic experiences, the dreadful life in the House of Boys and what the loss of his one friend did to him.

This is an incredible story which deserves 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. It takes the actuality of a patriarchal dominant society and turns it on its head. It shows a matriarchy of entitled and elitist women who subjugate, control and abuse boys and men from birth. Some of the aspects of this plot were disturbing and hard to read due to the comparison of the reality that women have been classed and treated as property, sexual objects and traded for better prospects to advance male agendas throughout history. This book explored that side of society by flipping the narrative and presenting it from a male enslaved perspective. Jude was an amazingly complex and realistic character. His drive to help make a difference for all boys coupled with his guilt over the loss of his best friend is palpable. The story is layered with secrets, betrayal, hope and the possibility of love even in this darkest of places. I was blown away by this phenomenal book and no doubt it will be among my top reads of 2021.
Profile Image for Jo McKenna-Aspell.
78 reviews5 followers
January 8, 2021
I have three indicators of a really good book: I stay up far too late reading, I tell other people to read it so I can discuss it with someone and I have to take a break before I pick up a new book (AKA the book hangover). This hit all three.

I notice other reviewers commenting that “The Boy I Am” has much in common with Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Sure, I can see the obvious parallels often found in dystopian fiction but I feel it shares more with Alderman’s “The Power” or Blackman’s “Noughts and Crosses” series. Subverting the stereotypical roles of race or gender provides a new lens to view systemic problems.

In “The Boy I am,” flipping the power dichotomy of men and women shines a powerful light on the absurdity of the treatment and oppression of women. There are big teachable moments, like consent, body autonomy and democracy. But I really respect the way Kettle handled the more nuanced examples, which would filed under the everyday sexism category. The smiles. We foster a young man and teaching him about overt sexism was straightforward; we found it far more challenging to explain why give-us-a-smile-love style behaviours and attitudes are toxic. Hearing Jude’s inner monologue as he navigates life with a catalogue of smiles is absolutely genius! It provides a recognisable lived experience for many readers and a new way in for those who have never experienced it.

They’re not really criticisms but I have two thoughts. The pace of the action rattles along full tilt even as you’re acclimatising to the world Kettle is building. I sometimes find that disorientating but I know other readers won’t. Also, the book predominately deals with a dichotomous presentation of gender; when you’re building an entire world in a single novel, I can see why. I would have enjoyed some more playing around at the margins but that’s just me. Not every book has to deliver everything to every reader.

Like Atwood, Alderman and Blackman, Kettle’s characters are not two dimensional. The protagonists are flawed, you can’t always trust the narrative voice and things aren’t neatly tied in a bow at the end. This is refreshing. And just as I’ve done with the powerhouse trio, I will be finding more of Kettle’s work to gobble and I’ll be returning to “The Boy I Am” for a second reading.
Profile Image for Rozanne Visagie.
450 reviews66 followers
October 29, 2021
I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by Penguin Random House SA in exchange for an honest review.

"This boy, this boy I am, is trying to breathe."

The Boy I Am, the debut novel of K. L. Kettle is a thought-provoking YA Thriller that deals with reversed gender roles. Though this book might not be for everyone, it touches on an important topic. Young boys compete to be the best and to be bought by the female elite at auctions. They fall under the protection of these women and stay with them. If a boy is not sold, they are sent to the mines. These are the only two options these boys have in life.
Unable to go outside High House and experience the real world, they are kept under rules and can't participate in normal activities. For example, they are required to wear blindfolds when having appointments.

Sixteen-year-old Jude Grant has one year left before he is sent to the mines but he has a different plan than the rest of the boys. Instead of focusing on his image, he is focusing on revenge. Jude wants to avenge the death of his best friend Vik by murdering the Chancellor, the one who is controlling everything at High House. But soon Jude finds himself in a mess and questions everything and everyone. Jude develops an interesting relationship with Romali Vor, one of the women from his appointments, but is uncertain about her motives. Will Jude be able to find freedom from High House or will his future be decided if he is bought at the auction?

There are five different houses: The House of Boys, The House of Wards, The House of Beauty, The House of Sacrifice and The House of Peace. These houses are the system of High House. Being paraded in front of masked women, these boys have different smiles. Jude names each of them and describes some of them as "smile three: patient-not-too-bored" or "smile twenty-nine: I-just-need-you-to-fix-me". Unable to be themselves, these boys act as they are ordered and don't dare to break any rules, except Jude. He is tired of this hierarchy and wants change.

This book is different to anything I have read before. Dealing with topics such as power dynamics and reversed gender roles, this book has an impact on the reader. I found the different houses and the role they played in the story interesting as well as the strength of the main character. Born out of nothing, controlled in every aspect of his life, strength and determination grew in Jude that creates hope for a better future. This isn't your normal YA Thriller but something much more.

"A name is a story that gets passed down and twisted by time. This has to be the start of more than one story, so it needs more than one name."

TW as mentioned in book: sexual aggression, trafficking, murder and surgical procedures.

This review is posted on my blog:
Profile Image for C.G. Moore.
Author 2 books11 followers
December 27, 2020
K. L. Kettle flips the script in her debut, 'The Boy I Am'. Set in a matriarchal world, Kettle explores the social and cultural impacts on boys, mirroring the challenges and stigmas that women face in the day-to-day world. Exploring gender roles and ideas of friendship and abuse, Kettle exhibits first-class world-building and incredible character development, culminating in a nail-biting conclusion that will leave readers wanting more. Highly recommended. Add it to your TBR list now!
February 23, 2021
This is a really well thought and constructed story. It’s a dystopIan YA future where gender roles are swapped and it’s a matriarchal world. I like the role reversal in that the men face sexism, sexual assault, catcalls, all the things women face are turned on their head and it makes you realise as women how much is still accepted, how much are social norms still and really makes you think. It’s a gripping tale with lots of twists, it’s fast paced and hard to put down. I adored this book, a fabulous read and what an ending. I’m hoping for possible future books for Jude and Ro

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
Profile Image for Hazel.
547 reviews30 followers
December 22, 2020
Imagine a world where women are safe from men. Imagine a world where women are in charge. Imagine a world where men no longer reduce women to something to flirt with or dismiss as beneath them. This is the way of life in K. L. Kettle's dystopian novel The Boy I Am. War has left the Earth in ruins, and it is no longer safe to go outside, yet humanity is surviving in tall, secure tower blocks overseen by the Chancellor. Men and boys are confined to the basement floors as a punishment for their behaviour during the war. To earn their right to live on the upper floors, they must learn to behave like a gentleman, and never look at a woman's skin without their permission.

The protagonist, Jude, is running out of time to earn the right to live amongst the women. If he does not gain a sponsor, he faces a future in the dangerous mines. Yet, Jude is not sure he wants to live with the women, who have demeaned him for his gender since his birth. He has seen another side to them and believes the Chancellor has killed his best friend. Jude wants to escape, risk the poisonous fog outside and search for a better life. To do this, the Chancellor must die.

The way women treat men and boys is uncomfortable to read. Female readers, in particular, may have experienced similar treatment at the hands of men. Feminists desire an equal world, but there is the risk of going too far the other way. Yet, as Jude discovers, it is not as black and white as Female versus Male. An underground gang of women known as Hysterics are also trying to escape. They want to save themselves and the boys from a society not run by women, but by the elite.

K. L. Kettle explains her intentions behind the novel in a letter to the reader at the end of the book. She quotes Lord Acton's (1834-1902) proverb "absolute power corrupts absolutely" and questions if everyone is equal, does everyone have the ability to abuse the power they have? What may have seemed a good idea for humanity after the war, has become an oppressive state where no one is safe from those in power, not even the women. The Chancellor controls everyone, but Jude and the Hysterics are determined to take that power away from her.

Telling the story from Jude's perspective highlights the faults in today's societies. Many are unaware of the belittling behaviour happening around them, but when the roles are reversed, they are obvious. The Boy I Am is both thrilling and eye-opening, challenging gender roles and power dynamics in general. Those who have read books such as Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman are guaranteed to enjoy K. L. Kettle's novel.
Profile Image for Laura (Bookie_mama_bear).
322 reviews16 followers
January 7, 2021

Thank you to @kaleidoscopictours @kl.kettle & @littletigerbooks for my copy of The Boy I Am as part of the blog tour.

⭐️ What’s it about?!

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?

⭐️ What did I think?!

I loved this! I found it unsettling, dark and so heartbreaking at times. Jude is such a sweetheart, I wanted to protect him so badly! It’s written in such a fast and flowing way that I was completely swept along, I couldn’t put it down. The relationships are either beautiful or gut wrenching. Having two sons I really found the treatment of the boys hard to bare. We are so used to reading about this type of discrimination from a female perspective, it’s was truly refreshing but awful to read certain chapters from Jude’s POV.....but that’s the point. It’s fantastic. No bones about it, I just loved it. It really makes you think about how we treat others and how we want to be treated in return.
Profile Image for Louise Gooding.
Author 4 books24 followers
November 29, 2020
This book has been likened to a YA, gender swapped, Handmaids Tale, or The Power.
Well, it’s neither. It’s better. So so so much better.
Super grateful to be given an advance copy of this book so i can shout at you all to add it to your reading list!
K.L.Kettle looks set to storm into the YA world, especially with this as her debut.
Profile Image for Chantelle Hazelden.
1,308 reviews50 followers
January 9, 2021
Powerful, poignant, perfection.

That is how I'd describe The Boy I Am.

A world where women are in charge, where boys grow up as I guess slaves, under the watch of those women who hold all the cards.

But does that make it a better place to live?

Are they better off or are things no better than if men were to rule?

Jude (our main protagonist) isn't looking to change things, no he's look to save his friend but in the process he is destined to save so much more.

I was in awe of this story.

Unexpectedly eye-opening.

This is the type of story where I don't want to say too much as I fear it would ruin the delivery of that first time reading it.

Here's what I will say ...

Feelings of strength and desire were the undercurrent of this tale and I felt them in my bones with every turn of the page.

The Boy I Am is a book to make you stop and think. As women we fought/fight for equality but have we ever thought that there are men that are fighting the same fight as us?

Necessary and crucial reading.

And that ending, well it just knocked out of the park, extremely fitting, leaving me with an almost cheeky grin on my face.
Profile Image for Charlie Finch.
12 reviews1 follower
December 21, 2020
Imagine the foggy air around you stank of sour eggs and your trousers were “splashed with veins of muck and dust” as you ran for dear life away from the Tower in the desert that kept you, locked and groomed by a power-hungry elite of masked women. Welcome to Jude’s dystopian world, a teenage boy bred by “Insem” in the House of Life, who is, like all the other Boys at the Auction, desperate to free himself of “debt” and become a man; perhaps to prove that he can control himself, and that to look at a woman is not to lose one’s innocence…

This speculative YA thriller was so thought-provoking and fast-paced, I couldn’t put it down. It’s smart speculative fiction, just abstract enough to feed on your curiosity without the complete confusion and chaos that comes with an entire new set of world-rules. The woman are freaky, the virtues are corrupted, the past sins of the forefathers stink, and the world outside is practically dead. It’s an incredibly bleak vision, but it isn’t one cast too far from truth, and character behaviours are certainly recognisable and illuminating. In fact, the authors understanding of power dynamics is what makes the latent action so compelling and tense.

The narration is first-person, Jude, in the present tense. He himself uses the second person singular to refer to a missing friend, perhaps dead, who acts as a kind of alter ego during the narration, and a motivation for revenge against the ruling Chancellor deemed responsible. Kettle uses highly original wordplay and compound adjectives to help build her radical vision of this world, even building exclamations based off its own elements. The language tackles the dark atmosphere with a surprisingly refreshing touch of humour and oddity. Though some action sequences may still be a little unsettling for readers. I had visions a la MAD MAX, which is very cool, but certainly not one to be stomached by everyone.

I am not widely read in the YA genre. So if the rest is as good as this, then I’ve got happy stacks of reading to do!
Profile Image for Camilla Chester.
Author 3 books7 followers
January 9, 2021
Dark yet filled with hope, this was a thrilling (slightly exhausting) and intense ride.

I was happily flummoxed for the first few chapters but so intrigued to find out about this cruel world and how Jude fitted in with it all.

The story did lose me at times but the ending is richly satisfying, tying everything neatly together.

Really enjoyed it and definitely see it as a film. Reminded me of Mortal Engines at times - very fast paced.

Go read it!
Profile Image for Lauren James.
Author 16 books1,424 followers
February 11, 2022
Speculative YA set in a dystopian future where boys are sold off to the female elite. I loved the poetic writing style in this!
Profile Image for Lisas Books, Gems and Tarot.
181 reviews5 followers
January 9, 2021
Thank you Little Tiger Books for this review copy!

Wow. This is such a moving, powerful story.

I loved Jude. My heart ached for him. I felt like he was so naive. He really didn’t know what to believe.

We are so used to reading stories where men are all powerful, but this time the women rule. It’s refreshing to read this from the male POV despite how awful the boys are treated.

I loved the relationships within the story, especially Jude’s friendship with Vik. He is full of anger that he lost his friend, but I love the flashbacks we get to see. I got to know Vik through Jude, and although it was heartbreaking, it was also sweet.

It makes you think about how you treat others, and how you’d like to be treated. A really powerful message.

If you haven’t already, put this on your TBR!

I gave it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for Rachael Mills.
829 reviews9 followers
December 18, 2020
A powerful and incisive exploration of sexism in a dystopian world where traditional gender roles are swapped. Incredible.

*** Full review to come ***
Profile Image for Chevonn.
86 reviews19 followers
July 16, 2021
I was kindly gifted a copy of "The Boy I Am" by Penguin Random House South Africa. I knew this book sounded really interesting and I was so happy when a copy came in some amazing book mail 🥳 I'm convinced they publish some of the best books out there!!

Before I even get started with my review, I just need you guys to know that I couldn't help but sniff the book every few pages. This book has my absolute favourite book smell and it just made me fall more in love with it haha. The cover is also really beautiful. I love it.

So, I believe this book is highly underrated. I don't think enough people know about it so that they can enjoy something that is unique and poignant. Well, not unique as in that I've never heard of before. It's based on what currently happens in our world but with the gender roles reversed. It's set in a dystopian world where everyone lives in these towers that are sealed off from the outside world post-war. And things in the tower are quite interesting. Women run the show, with a Chancellor on the top floor in ultimate power and boys are kept in the lower levels where they must earn their way into the upper levels of the tower. They are only there to serve the women and if they can't manage to be hired before their 17th birthday, they go and work in the mines underground. Everything seems to be running pretty slick in the tower until it is not. 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?

The blurb doesn't even give away how awesome this book is. As soon as I was a few chapters in, I knew I was going to love it. It was intense, well written and gripping. When you can't wait to get back to reading so that you can see what happens next, you know it's got a good grip on you.

This book has so many intriguing elements from the way the boys live versus how the women live, to how the relationships are between the boys themselves and how they can be bought for the sake of serving women in these private rooms. There is obviously the Outside which is a great mystery factory. There are rebels like in any good dystopian! There's those in power but are abusing their power and those that want to tear it down. There's murder and friendship and adventure and chaos and love (although a weird kind because of the circumstances). But it's got everything to keep one flipping the pages. I also enjoyed the ending.

Goodreads describes this book like this: A speculative YA thriller, tackling themes of traditional gender roles and power dynamics, for fans of Malorie Blackman, Louise O’Neill and THE POWER.

This book is a commentary on whether a world where things were reversed (women in power and powerful instead of men) would be a better world and as this book so rightly depicts, anyone with power can be corrupted and they usually are and end up doing questionable things just because they can. So it's by no means a lighthearted read but I loved it.

I highly recommend it and hope more people get to enjoy this thrilling and exciting read!!
Profile Image for Becca.
16 reviews
February 6, 2021
‘The Boy I Am’ is a novel about a boy named Jude Grant, who lost his best friend, Viktor Perrault, at the hands of the Chancellor. He now plans to get revenge for what she did, and in order to murder her he must be sold to her during the auction. The story reminds me of ‘The Handmaids Tale’ but with reversed gender roles. The treatment of the boys is inhumane, meaning to shock us and make us believe it can’t be real, yet their experiences are ones that women have had to go through for centuries, the stereotypes, no right to education, and living in a male dominated world. Here, the boys are born into a matriarchy of elitist women who control them from the moment they are born. By reversing the genders, K.L Kettle makes this feel even more disturbing and uncomfortable to the reader, which I found incredibly interesting, because it shows how normalised some of the behaviour is when it’s directed towards women rather than men. I was enthralled from the moment I picked it up and finished it in about 3 days because I couldn’t put it down. I thought this book was so incredibly powerful to read, it is brilliantly written and I believe it is something everybody should read at least once in their lifetime, mostly because of how eye-opening it is, but also because of how beautifully well it is crafted.
The only thing I'll say is that I found the setting quite confusing, normally I'm able to picture the scenes but I found it very difficult with this book because it was very complex but never explained. Are all the different 'Houses' in one huge building? Or is the huge building that is the main setting just one of the 'Houses' and there are multiple other buildings just like it that are the 'House of Peace' etc. and they are all in a big city? Is the city in the middle of the desert? Where were all the tunnels they seemed to find? Why was there a run down hospital that took days for Jude and Ro to walk to and then it only took Jude a few hours to get back to the city from it? I just feel like there could be a map at the start of the book explaining the layout of this 'world'.
Profile Image for Sandra "Jeanz".
1,154 reviews162 followers
January 25, 2021
The cover was the thing that first caught my attention, it instantly made me think of The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Attwood. Then the blurb made me think of The Lone City Series by Amy Ewing which as I adored this book had to go straight on my Want To/Must Read List!

The odd thing was as I began reading the book, the very thing that attracted me to it (it reminding me of The Lone City Series by Amy Ewing, but with the gender roles reversed) ended up making me feel put off by it.

The central character we follow during the book is Jude Grant, or lot 150 when he is being viewed for ladies to bid, or reserve him. The rich females of this society are the ruling class, they are the ones objectifying and those purchasing the boys at auction. The other women in this society work in the different houses, such as the House Of Peace, being the Lice (police).

Boys have to work their way up through dormitories, gaining merits, in the hope one day before they are too old, they will either be chosen or be able to buy their way into the House Of Boys. The House Of Boys then trains them to dance, smile, how to walk, how to dress etc in the hope they will be bought by one of the women from the richer houses. The richer the women the better the lifestyle for the boy they buy. A lot of the women have had their family merits handed down to them as opposed to earning them, as perhaps the less wealthy women have to, to make their way up in social standing. Unfortunately for the boys in this society the very best they can hope for is to be bought by an affluent woman. The boys are born with the debt of the males, they are named after. The boys are also charged for the time and care they receive in the Surrogacy House. There are no “relationships” as we would recognise them. Boys are “made” and put to work, as well as being trained to become wards of those women affluent enough to purchase.

Life at the House Of Boys is not easy, naturally there's rivalry, some camaraderie, a lot of bullying, that turns quite violent at one point within the book. Prior to being purchased at auction the boys that are on the “House Of Boys” have training and have appointments with women. The women can just come for a chat with their friends and be served by one of the boys of their choice. Or it can be more of a one on one, meeting, though the boys have to be given permission to speak and of course are still blindfolded. There are rumours of life “outside” the Houses within the Tower. The Chancellor says it is inhabited by people she refers to as “Hysterics”, and they are dangerous. All Jude wishes to do is be bought by the Chancellor as he has a plan, he needs to carry out. Walker, one of the Chancellors currents wards who is charge of some of the boys training.

At the head of everything is the chancellor, a devious woman who both men and women are afraid of. Even those rich women at the head of the different Houses do not totally agree with some of her practices and the things she wants to change, and the alterations and operation she wants to have done to the boys. The boys are prepared, groomed, taught dance, encouraged to look good, all in the hope of bringing a good price at auction. Boys can also be given cosmetic surgery by those who have appointments with them. These boys really are at the whim and mercy of the rich women who are ruled over by the Chancellor.

In this society being bought by a rich woman really seems to be the best these boys can hope for. Can one boy called Jude possibly change this society? With the help of a daughter from one of the richest houses, maybe they can...maybe there is hope and help outside the walls of the tower.

My favourite character is Jude despite all the horrors and mistreatment Jude goes through he still tries to help those around him where ever he can. Jude is so trusting and thinks people are his friends and even when they stand by whilst he is beaten by other boys, he doesn’t blame them. Jude worries about the girl that smells like rain, the one that books him for appointments, especially when she cries. I adored the “relationship” Jude has with Ro, a female debutante from an influential family, yet to choose which House she will work in.

I loved the writing style of the book, the way Jude is constantly having an internal dialogue with the boy who the Chancellor bought at auction last year. That boy was called Victor, or Vik by the other boys. Jude doesn’t know whether Vik is alive or dead, or just “gone.” The book may be a work of fiction but it really deals with a lot of difficult subjects, with violence, rape, and discrimination being just three of them. I thought the small quotes/poetry at the beginnings of the different sections of the book were a really great idea. This book was a change from the usual case of females being portrayed as the weaker sex, the slaves, lower class and the oppressed. Instead, it is males that are being used as slaves, sexual objects, and as entertainment.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that this book has once heck of a twisting, turning plot!

Summing up, I really adored this book, the characters and what an ending! The plot and universe created by the author certainly keep you on the edge of your seat, holding your breath. How the plot ended it makes sense as a standalone book, however if there was going to be more, I would be interested in reading more about Jude and Ro, and this female led civilisation. It would be fascinating to learn, if and how Jude could change the universe and future of society.
Profile Image for blok sera szwajcarskiego.
704 reviews166 followers
February 15, 2022
"Did you hear the story of the boy who danced? He never knew the moves
but he refused to stay still."

Buckle up, gang, because this one is so strange.

Finding this book randomly was the biggest "what I just found" I had in years. And truly, such controversial-ish idea for the world could end up only deep in flames or on the highest pedestal. Naturally, I was curious which way it will go.

And I must confess, although through rough, not-finished path, it did made its way right on the top. With scars from the road, I cannot lie, but still, it was far from the flames.

There will be no spoiling about what this book is from me. I think the biggest power of it lies in discovering it itself, what Jude's story will be, what path will he and the world around take. I expected something entirely different, and what I received was so far from everything possible, too, yet this book can be read in many, many ways, and all will be (mostly) correct.
The message here is not the message you thought. The world is not what you thought. What I can, and will, say is that this book choose truly the hardest path to its spectacular ending on my high rating. The first 75-80% was very strange, it's the part were the flaws are shown. And not in the message per se, but in the book-building.

Because in the end it's also a book, not only the speech from author. Any objections I have are targeted to the way the world-building was made – some contradictions here, misunderstandments there, a bit of plot holes. But because it's written in such weird narration I can excuse it, because the way it's written serves also as a way to meet our main character. Sure, this argument can be easily destroyed, yet it is how I feel about it. And I kinda like it (question mark? because still it was a bit frustrating during reading).

For me, this book is about power over other human. Not in the government kind of way, but physiological and emotional. It's about overthrowing basic feelings, things considered by us as standards, obligatory values. How mind works, and how it doesn't. How a person adapts, while the other sinks down below, so they can bounce off the bottom. About revolutions, betrayals, relationships, manipulations and stereotypes in variety of ways.

I can see why people will either hate or love it. I understand both of those opinions. I think both are valid, both have strong points in plot itself. But what's more important – it's a book you need to try yourself. Give it a chance. Open your eyes for it. You can't rely on someone's opinion here, you can only request an arrangement with Jude Grant and see what he really is in this curious Tower.

It's a strange book. Very weird, very niche. So of course it was obvious I would like it, this is the jam I love to find. And yet still this love isn't perfect, it's not endless, it's flawed, and, well.
Maybe it makes me like it more than I should.
Maybe it makes me feel like dancing.

Profile Image for Karen Barber.
2,476 reviews59 followers
February 2, 2021
Thanks to NetGalley for granting me access to this prior to publication. It’s an explosive read, forcing us to question the extent to which we would allow power to go unquestioned.
In this world boys are seen as dangerous and it is essential they are kept apart, given no power and kept subdued. They are not allowed to view the faces of the women who pay for their time, and if they are not bought at auction before the age of seventeen they are sent to the mines.
Our main character is Jude Grant, facing his last auction and desperate to escape the destiny laid in front of him.
Without giving too much away, Jude is enlisted in a daring attempt to overthrow the Chancellor, to topple her from power and bring about change.
Things don’t go to plan. Jude is a determined young man, but we see he is a cog in a much larger machine. That aside, it only takes that one cog to be slightly out of alignment to cause problems.
I found the pacing of this problematic at times and definitely felt I wanted to know more about the mysterious Vor women and how this environment came to be. Very minor niggles, but enough to stop me awarding five stars, which is a shame as this is a book I can see raising a storm amongst readers.
189 reviews6 followers
January 6, 2021
This is a slow starter - which is strange, because it literally starts in the middle; it took a while before I really followed everything that was happening - but once I caught up with what was happening everything flew. There's a lot going on in this novel; I don't want to risk spoiling it, so I'll only talk quite generally about it.

Imagine Only Ever Yours from the other perspective; boys are the ones being bid on and subjugated and pushed down. It's a thin genre, needs a few more entries, but this one will stand proudly in it.

I mentioned that it took a while for me to follow everything that was happening. That's because this is a real world, with every detail thought of and worked out carefully. And since Jude has grown up in it, he doesn't always think about it, any more than we do. But, once I was following what was happening, I didn't want to put this one down. You'll want to pay attention, too; there's a lot going on in this one, it's not a book to skim read.

Profile Image for Raymond Wolf.
39 reviews
January 12, 2022
Another Dystopia book from my TBR, love the idea of the book, gender swapping from what happens in reality and I loved that. Good character develop of Jude Grant, a boy from working in the kitchens to tackling and tearing the corruption of power. first sixty to eighty pages are go around the same thing, flat style of writing and repetitive at times, going around in circles. it became lively once there was action outside the tower in desert, that’s when I started enjoying the book.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carolyn.
345 reviews15 followers
January 3, 2021
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for review.
An interesting subversion of the 'Handmaid's Tale' formula, a dystopia where men are the property of women. By reversing the "traditional" gender roles, we are given more to think about regarding the conversation around the structures of power and their abuses. Well written and thought provoking.
Profile Image for Tony Brown.
113 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2021
This just wasn't for me, but it was superbly written and very thought-provoking.

Jude Grant is running out of time. Every year, one lucky man from the House of Boys is auctioned to the female elite. Fail to be selected, and a future in the mines awaits. Ever since the death of his best friend, Vik, Jude is desperate to escape the path that has been set out for him. He finds himself in a plot to avenge his best friend, assassinate the Chancellor and win his freedom. But at what price?

The setting of this book was very interesting and extremely unique. The author did a brilliant job of exploring gender roles, flipping the script and creating a matriarchal society. The women are in power, and the men face challenges that are similar to what women face in the real world. I did feel that the world wasn't developed enough - I would have liked a little bit more on its history. Why was the society confined the tower? What was the mysterious fog? Why did the fog exist?

I did really like Jude, and felt protective of him. I thought he was extremely vulnerable and kind-natured. Ro was definitely my favourite; she was such a badass. I would have liked to have seen more of the Chancellor; I felt like we barely got to see her and as a result, she didn't seem that threatening.

The book was written in a very weird, but unique and interesting style. It is written as though Jude is talking to his mysterious friend, Vik, and was done very well. I could not work Vik out at all, and often I wondered whether he was part of Jude's imagination.

I honestly don't know why I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would. It definitely was not a bad book as it was very thought-provoking and contained several challenging themes. I'd read several reviews before picking it up, so maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood to read a book like this at the moment. I might give it a reread in the future in the hope that I enjoy it a lot more.

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