Enhanced by Courtney Farrell
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Dystopian Fantasy
Release Date: August 15th, 2013
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Sixteen-year-old Michelle is a product of the Institute's eugenics program, where people are bred like livestock. One doctor decides which kids get to grow up, and which disappear.
Only Culls walk into the slum outside Institute walls, and they never come back. Michelle has survived every purge, and she's about to win a luxurious life as a breeder.
Then the doctor banishes her brother Seth and her boyfriend Brian, and she risks everything to find them in the cutthroat slum. She's in trouble until handsome Dillon stakes a claim to her.
Michelle is mortified, because Norms are practically animals. But the doctor is using the missing boys in a twisted plan and she needs Dillon's help to stop him. Michelle and her friends must find Seth and Brian, but a plague is spreading, the doctor is after her and Dillon isn't thrilled to help her find her lost boyfriend.
"Enhanced" by Courtney Farrell is a young adult dystopian novel set in a future where babies are pretty much made in test tubes to have specific skills and brain power, and those that don't live up to the Institute's expectations are thrown out like garbage. The "Enhanced" live within the Institute's walls whereas all of the "Unenhanced," or "Norms," as they're more regularly called, live in slums on the outside.
When the book starts, we are immediately thrown into the action as we follow Michelle, Brian, and their friends and family through their lives as Enhanced teenagers. I kept waiting for the inevitable explanations about what happened to the society that we all know and how it evolved into this genetics fueled experiment that our characters are a part of. However, except for a few vague references about a war, we never really get the explanation on how or why society crumbled.
This was my biggest problem with the book. I wanted more world building and background on what was happening, but I never got it. Yes, I understand that some sort of war happened and all of this genetics tampering was a result of trying to build super soldiers, but I was still left in the dark about a good portion of what was going on. Who was fighting in the war? Are other countries like this? How many walled off institutes are there and do they all have slums full of Norms around them?
I'm always for reading a good dystopian young adult novel, but I love it more when the author portrays society's downfall to show how things got to the dystopian setting. I would have rated "Enhanced" higher if I had gotten some background information and answers to my questions.
Another issue I had was the instant attraction between Michelle and Dillon. She meets him when she first goes over the wall, and he saves her from a possible dangerous situation. However, once that situation is under control, he continues being overly friendly and familiar with her, even though Norms are usually servants to the Enhanced and are trained to keep their eyes down and only speak when spoken to. The complete ease he had with Michelle right off the bat was a little off for me, because I would have thought he'd have to overcome his years of treating Enhanced as if they were better than him.
The relationship between Brian, Seth, and Max seemed more realistic and organic to me. The boys meet Max and his gang soon after they're sent beyond the wall and develop an alliance over time. Max sees these boys and their Enhanced genes as useful assets to his team and the boys see Max as someone who could provide them food, shelter, and safety. It's only after these three have been together for awhile that they start to actually bond and care for each other beyond just an alliance for survival.
Besides the lack of background information and the too strong too soon connection between Michelle and Dillon, I did enjoy this book. Once I got over the whole ‘What is happening to the world?’ question and just went with it, I was able to follow and get into the story quite easily. The characters were thought out and each had unique personalities, the plot was sound, and our main conflict had considerable stakes.
I also liked the pacing of this book. I've read other reviews that have had issues with the fast pace, but I think it worked. Farrell created a story and kept it defined to one book, when a lot of other authors would have made a series surrounding this one issue. It made sense that things were moving fast, and I thought Farrell did a great job of letting us know when there were time jumps by subtly having the characters mention the passage of time instead of listing it with the chapter title.
"Enhanced" is a book that I would recommend to my friends, even if I had qualms with some things. The story was overall a good one, and it kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next.
I write YA fiction now! My first novel, Enhanced, launched in September 2013 with Crescent Moon Press. Enhanced is about a teen girl born into a eugenics program, where ruthless doctors breed people like livestock. The sequel, tentatively titled Run From Iron Torr, is in the pipeline. In other news, I am nearly finished with the first book in a new dystopian series. Right now the title is Bait, but we'll see what my publisher says. Titles can change right up to the last minute.