When Annabelle attacks an opposing team member at a basketball game, she faces dire consequences. Though she is a volunteer with the police force, she may be sent to a rehabilitation facility far from home and the younger sister she dearly loves. Annabelle’s only alternative is to join a fierce group of government agents called Mechs. All she wants for herself is a quiet life as a restaurant owner and a place to keep her adopted sister safe.
In Annabelle’s world men are exiled, quarantined or forced to fight to the death in the annual games which serve as final training for Mech operatives, so when a group of boys escape from an enclosed school, Mechs and cops alike are called to the hunt. Annabelle can’t suppress her curiosity about men. Her feelings about them are so different than her feelings for women, and she wonders if this is strange. When she is faced with an escapee, Annabelle knows she should turn him in and follow the rules. The only problem: she is anything but a rule-following girl. Helping the boy escape will endanger everyone she loves and rocket Annabelle to a place of impossible life and death decisions.
Erlick creates an imaginative dystopian world in which men are exiled and women rule all. Despite harmony ranking as highest virtue, the government trains up powerful forces to destroy anyone who breaks the rules or bears a Y chromosome. Disaster lurks around every turn, and one can’t help but be drawn into the dilemmas Annabelle faces.
Though the possible romantic pull between Annabelle and the redheaded boy she rescues is never really developed, her compassion and valor are endearing. Dystopian fans will likely call this one a winner.
Annabelle lives in a society largely without men. Children are often born as a result from a procedure which combines two eggs from mothers. Annabelle’s mother has two wives. After drinking too much at a party, Annabelle wakes up the next morning with a girl. She also has a close but ambiguous relationship with her adopted sister. Others tease them about being lovers, but no graphic details are given about whether or not the two are physically involved.
Annabelle’s government has tracked her to employment in a security job, either as a cop or a mech, a member of a special operatives group known for their deadliness. Annabelle’s training is pretty die-hard, but the author doesn’t give many graphic details about the girls’ injuries.
Annabelle’s rival hosts wild parties at her plantation home. Annabelle goes sometimes, but usually does not drink alcohol with the girls. (See Sexual Content for exception.) The leader of the mech training program uses powerful medication on the girls which heal serious injuries overnight and makes them infertile. Side effects aren’t specified, but it’s no secret that these are not safe/approved medicines.