Friday, 1 March 2013

The Culling (The Torch Keeper, #1) (ARC) by Steven dos Santos

The Culling (The Torch Keeper, #1)
Blurb (from Goodreads):
Who would you choose?

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 recruit has to choose which one.

As the five recruits form uneasy alliances in the hellish wasteland that is the training ground, an undeniable attraction develops between Lucky and the rebellious Digory Tycho. But the rules of the training ensure that only one will survive--the strongest recruits receive accolades, wealth, and power while the weakest receive death. With Cole--Lucky's four-year-old brother--being held as "incentive," Lucky must marshal all his skills and use his wits to keep himself alive, no matter what the cost.

 The Culling by Steven dos Santos

My rating: 6 out of 10 stars

The Culling (The Torch Keeper, #1)(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Flux Books, and Netgalley.)
16-year-old Lucian or ‘Lucky’ lives with his 4-year-old brother Cole. His parents are both dead, and the only other friendly face is that of his elderly neighbour (elderly being age 40!), who is dying from a sort of lung infection.

Lucian’s society is ruled by a group known as ‘The Establishment’, and every so often they have a ‘recruitment’, where 5 kids are picked to go into ‘special training’. This special training involves the five kids going through 5 trials, at the end of each trial, whoever comes last must pick one of their 2 ‘incentives’ to die. These ‘incentives’ are the two people closest to the recruit – parents, siblings, children etc.

Lucky finds himself a recruit, along with one of his friends – Digory. Who will be the only victor of the trials? Who will die first? And can Lucian save his brother?

Quite simply, this is a grislier version of ‘The Hunger Games’ (yes, apparently that’s possible), and also reminds me a bit of the film ‘The Cube’ with the things that happen during the tasks. It also has a much rawer feeling to it, and when stuff happens, it’s pretty gruesome.

The five recruits are expected to battle it out, they’re set tasks in an arena, and whoever finishes last gets one of their ‘incentives’ killed, and they are the one who has to choose which one (out of their two closest lover ones – a spouse, children, parents etc). Gross huh? But that’s not the end of it, because they have to watch their loved one get their head chopped off, or eaten alive by rats, or some other awful death, and in these tasks that they have to complete –there are loads of people who are ill or diseased, and when the task is over - they get melted with acid –alive!

I did enjoy some parts of this book, there were some scenes that were okay, but there were a lot of bits that went a little too far for me. I’m not liking horror at the moment, and some of the events in this book were just too gruesome for me. This is definitely not a book for kids – think ‘resident evil’.

I also wasn’t expecting the gay love triangle! Nothing against homosexuals – do as you please, I just wasn’t expecting it! Think this is the first gay love triangle I have ever come across to be honest. It’s amazing that even in a twisted, dystopian world where people are fighting for their lives, the author puts in a love triangle – oh yeah, that happened in the hunger games too!

Overall; I think maybe older male teens might enjoy this book, it’s a bit like a horror movie really, and there’s a ‘war’ sort of feeling to it too. It was a bit too raw and gruesome for me though.
6 out of 10.


  1. Well, umm, that sounds...SCARY. I don't like the way that this sounds at all! Aeeeiii! I had no idea that it was possible to have a grislier Hunger Games, and I'm surprised by a gay love triangle too. Great review, I'm glad that you said those things, LOL! Now I know to stay clear! ;)

    Megan@The Book Babe

  2. OMG, I have to read this. I love grisly, scary books. And The Cube is one of my fav movies. This sounds perfect for me.

  3. Yikes! Thanks for the review. I can't believe how far they are willing to go in YA sometimes. Sometimes it's with violence, other times they push the sex too far, but it seems to be happening more and more. I will steer clear of this!