Thursday, July 18, 2013

SRL: Tankborn by Karen Sandler

Ack! I totally forgot to post this yesterday! For that...I apologize. It was supposed to post yesterday.
I know I'm skipping a book on my list, but I really wanted to pair up my reviews of Stargirl and Nineteen Minutes together. You will learn more next week why.  Why not tomorrow? Because it's Friday and I'm starting my vacation early.  But here's a treat for you!

When I finished this book my first thought was "What? That's it?  There has to be more!!"

So being in the modern age that we are, I went searching the internet. And it's the first in a trilogy. And only the first two are out. OF COURSE!!! (now how do I get myself an advanced copy of the third book...hmmm)

My Summer Reading List has a lot on it right I'll be waiting to do the second book.  But in the meantime, here is my review of Tankborn...and even more interview with the author!

First: What's it about?
Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated when the time comes for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. High-status trueborns and working-class lowborns, born naturally of a mother, are free to choose their own lives. But GENs are gestated in a tank, sequestered in slums, and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen.
When Kayla is Assigned to care for Zul Manel, the patriarch of a trueborn family, she finds a host of secrets and surprises-not least of which is her unexpected friendship with Zul's great-grandson. Meanwhile, the children that Mishalla is Assigned to care for are being stolen in the middle of the night. With the help of an intriguing lowborn boy, Mishalla begins to suspect that something horrible is happening to them.
After weeks of toiling in their Assignments, mystifying circumstances enable Kayla and Mishalla to reunite. Together they hatch a plan with their new friends to save the children who are disappearing. Yet can GENs really trust humans? Both girls must put their lives and hearts at risk to crack open a sinister conspiracy, one that may reveal secrets no one is ready to face.
My thoughts:
I got sucked into this story pretty quickly. It was easy to read and the characters were likable. I was a little uncomfortable with how quickly one romance happened, but I got over it pretty quickly. I probably forget how fast I "fell in love" when I was fifteen. The characters were likeable and I found myself really rooting for one of them (Mishalla).  My perspective on books has changed a lot since I became a mother and I could feel the torment that Mishalla went through when the children were being stolen in the night. One interesting thing about the world that the story takes place in, is the different races of the humans that inhabit this future world...and who is "better" than another. The story is told from different perspectives but instead of finding that annoying, I really enjoyed being in multiple characters "stories". I would highly recommend this book for middle school kids (or anyone really).

And...onto the interview with the author!

1. We know how you came up with your idea for Tankborn, but how did you flesh out the multi-racial (multi-caste) characters without falling into the trap of racism? (or was race and pre-conceived ideas a part of that development?)

With TANKBORN, I wanted to present issues of bigotry and racism in a science fictional world divorced from Earth’s history. In the created world of Loka, where the colonists were able to build any society they liked, they still fell into that same trap of bigotry and prejudice. Is it human nature to want to stratify and create the “other?” To some extent, it is, although we do often see people’s better nature come through, often see real people grow and change as they begin to see the “other” as just a different version of themselves.

In TANKBORN, I intentionally built that stratified society, both to explore the issues of racism and to create a dramatic premise. In the real world, we do want everyone to value each other and to get along. In a novel, we need conflict or the story will be very dull.

Something else I was trying to do (this being a young adult novel) was to present teenagers trapped in a world not of their making. Both Kayla, the GEN, and Devak, the trueborn, have to follow what society and their parents demand of them. Kayla, as a GEN, is more obviously restricted in her life, but Devak is too since there are so many expectations placed on him.

2. What kinds of characters are your favorite to write?

I like the underdogs. The characters who have a core of goodness, of dignity, but they’re often left in the shadows. I want those characters to be fighters too, to stand up for themselves. No wimps!

3. When you wrote Tankborn, did you know it was going to be a trilogy?

I did see it as a trilogy, but it wasn’t sold that way. I had to end the first book in a satisfactory way because we weren’t sure if there’d be a book 2 and 3. I had short synopses of the second and third books ready and eventually a contract for the subsequent books came through.

4. What is the one book coming out this year that you cannot wait to read?

I am hooked on Hugh Howey’s WOOL series. Wonderful world-building in this science fiction series. I recently finished the original WOOL books and am now in the middle of SHIFT, the prequel to WOOL. DUST, the follow-on to WOOL, comes out in August.

5. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Generally, chocolate. Specifically, Denali Extreme Moose Tracks.

And a great big THANK YOU to Karen Sandler for taking the time to respond to my email and grant me an interview.  Stay tuned to my blog...sometime in the Fall or Winter I'll pick up the second book in this series.

When you get a chance, please go check out the website for the author: and
And follow on twitter:

Want to get Tankborn? It's available until TOMORROW for only $1.99 on Amazon for your Kindle:

1 comment:

Tara said...

When did you update the list and add this? How did I miss it? Will request now.

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