CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 1. . . .September 9, 2016
True Born. (True Born Trilogy, Bk. One).
L. E. Sterling.
Fort Collins, CO: Entangled Publishing (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2016.
307 pp., hardcover & Ebook, $19.50 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-63375-319-8 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-63375-325-9 (Ebook).
Grades 7-10 / Ages 12-15.
Review by Chris Laurie.
“What are you talking about?”
My sister gives me a funny look, like she can’t believe I’m asking such a stupid question. “Come over here,” she says. Her finger points into the darkness. “See that?” I look. Two blocks away a streetlight illuminates a massive, leafy tree growing in the middle of the street. It’s too exotic to be native of Dominion: broad leaves shoot up into a prehistoric canopy at least two stories high.
“I saw one of the preacher’s boys lob a bomb there. When it detonated, it felt like a fist squeezing my insides. I thought I was going to die.”
“But then, maybe a few minutes later, I heard all this shouting and got up to see where the fighting was. I was worried they were going to bomb this place next. And there it was.” She turns serious gray eyes on me. “Lu, it’s grown a good seven feet in the past hour.”
True Born, the first in Sterling’s trilogy of the same name, hits the ground running; leaving reader’s scrambling to gather the threads of the plot. Lucy and identical twin sister Margot are privileged young ladies in a vast, dystopic future world where a plague has decimated the population. Survivors belong to one of three distinct castes. Lasters wait hopelessly for the plague to claim them. Splicers are those who can afford DNA treatments in an effort to stave it off. True Borns carry genetic mutations and are plague resistant. But this adaptation brings profound evolutionary consequences.
Lucy and Margot’s father is Chief Diplomat of the continent-state of Nor-Am, the family lives in a gated mansion, and the girls attend a private school. The twins are undergoing an extensive series of genetic testing, and the results are to be revealed shortly, on their eighteenth birthdays. However, one month ahead of this, wilder sister Margot vanishes, and the security team that has been guarding the family is enhanced by a highly unusual special force. Lucy is desperate to locate Margot, with whom she shares a psychic connection, and finds she must put her trust in Jared, a young member of the new security team.
Readers will find a lot to take in as Sterling unravels an expansive world consisting of a strong and intriguing cast of characters. This novel also touches on political issues, power and class struggles, while also containing effective action and absorbing romance.
Lucy is a strong, intelligent and likeable main character. She shares a psychic bond with Margot, and the relationship between the sisters is well-developed. Love interest Jared is a complicated character, a True Born with the genes of a human mixed with those of a cat. The connection between Jared and Lucy is strong, but can she trust him completely? Secondary characters are solid as well and will likely continue to be explored in the next books in this series.
Originally posted as a novella on Wattpad, True Born became so popular that Stirling decided to turn it into a trilogy. While borrowing heavily from the X-Men franchise, this YA novel is a very satisfying read, with an absorbing plot, interesting, likeable characters and plenty of action. I look forward to book two in the series.
Stirling had an early obsession with sci-fi, fantasy and romance to which she remained faithful even through an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English Literature. She is the author of cult hit YA novel, The Originals (under pen name LE Vollick) and the urban fantasy Pluto’s Gate. Originally from Parry Sound, ON, Sterling currently lives in Toronto.
Chris Laurie is an Outreach Librarian at Winnipeg Public Library.
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