Aberrant by Ruth Silver

In the future Dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system. There is food, shelter and jobs for everyone. The one requirement is to follow the rules without question, including the government's match in marriage and 'The Day of the Chosen', a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children as natural means hasn't existed in generations. Following her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life when it all comes abruptly to an end as she's arrested and thrown in prison. The only crime committed, her existence. Olivia is unlike the rest of the world born not from 'The Day of the Chosen.' The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as one simple fact would destroy the perfect system.

With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run. Together they set out to find the promised rebel town in search of a new home and new life together. Their situation seems less than promising as they reach the town of Haven. New rules and customs must be adhered to in order to stay. Leaving would mean most certain death in the large expanse of the Gravelands. Time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her. Thrown into a world unlike their own, they must quickly adapt to survive

Olivia lives in the Genesis settlement, embarking in the marriage ceremony that may ultimately change her life. Her graduating class of sixteen boys and sixteen girls will be chosen to be matched, the decision entirely that of the government of Cabal. Refusal results in being banished from the community and sent to the Gravelands, where outlaws rape and pillage, if you didn't die of dehydration and starvation first. Luckily Olivia is matched with best friend Joshua, with the two eighteen year old's married and given a home within the village.

In a system where all citizens are supposedly treated equally, the government allocates children by lottery, conceived in a laboratory, making intimacy unnecessary. Olivia and her mother are arrested when the government discovers that Olivia was conceived naturally, therefore making her fertile. In a society where vaccines had taken away a woman's ability to reproduce, Olivia is a rare commodity.

With the aid of Joshua's mother helping Olivia to escape, Olivia's freedom is short lived as the two teens arrive in Haven, controlled by the Rebel Alliance. Her marriage to Joshua being null and void. Believing Haven is the lesser of two evils, until Olivia us given an ultimatum. She has three years to choose a mate, marry and conceive, with any other male besides Joshua. Olivia has long since loved Joshua before the two were matched, and can't imagine her life with any other.

Olivia's safety is now compromised when the Cabal army tanks roll into Haven, the city alight with flames and devastation. Olivia and Joshua need to escape before the government takes them into custody. With only a stolen map, her late father's journal and a borrowed solar powered vehicle, the closest town is four long and debilitating days of travel. But when the two runaway's arrive in the secret town seeking asylum, their new identities raise more than eyebrows in the hostile settlement. They cannot leave, but rather forced to train to join the Rebel Alliance through a series of tests, to determine whether the candidates are worthy of joining and only the strong will survive. 

With so many infractions within the Alliance, her only option is to join or due trying, Olivia believes it may have been wiser to stay in Genesis... But what is it that the settlement in Shadow are not telling her?

Aberrant was good, only as it felt as though it should have been longer. It had the core dystopian components, without the instant love or relationship with the added third wheel, but it left me waiting and wanting the typical anarchy, the feisty uprising and the tension, that sadly never came. It's ideal for teen young adult readers, especially those who enjoyed Ally Condie's Matched series.

The reader will wonder who is the lesser of two evils. The government treats everyone equally, with individuality discouraged. They claim to base choices on what is in each citizen's best interests, who to marry, which couple are to be allowed a child through means of lottery, and their role within the community. The Alliance within Haven aren't the rebellious revolutionaries they claim to be. Forceful and unjust in punishment, implanting tracker chips on those who don't comply, and incarceration for those who dare to ask questions. They also take away Olivia's basic human rights, but Haven was too fleeting to allow for the development of it's residents and characters, one being Joshua's mother. She seemed too pivotal to be skimmed over. 

I loved the twist that the Shadow settlement provided, late within the Alliance training. I would have loved to have seen Haven eradicated altogether, with Olivia and Joshua having found the town through other  means, perhaps back in Genesis.

I really enjoyed the overall concept and storyline, but it felt as though it was hurriedly streaming towards nothing in particular. If it had been drawn out, allowing for character development, more exploration of the actual role of the Rebel Alliance without blurring the lines between different Rebel camps and making them one entire organisation, no doubt I would have given Aberrant a far higher rating.

(Aberrant: Book One)
Written By Ruth Silver
Published 28 / 04 / 2013
240 Pages

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