For the Good of All
M. B. Dahl
Elk Lake Publishing
Published August 8, 2021
About For the Good of All
“For the good of all, we give ourselves.”
At least that’s how the mantra goes. Everyone knows the refrain. Everyone responds to it. But Ren seriously doubts how killing off people who are different is good for anyone, especially when she’s hiding her own difference.
Just graduated, Ren follows her friend Bala’s advice, “blend in.” Being overlooked isn’t a problem until a cute guy asks her out. Owen’s handsome, funny, and sees her. He treats her like an equal, not a problem. But he has his own secrets.
His issues aren’t like hers, though. Aberrant with a strange ability even she doesn’t understand, Ren must choose to embrace her differences or run before she becomes the next one sacrificed for the good of all.
I like that this book is told in multiple perspectives. We follow Ren, a girl born with a gift that, if discovered, will mean her death; Owen, a boy with grand aspirations within the Protectorate, shadowed by the guilt of a terrible secret; and Dart, a girl who lives among lots of people with gifts, but whose own ability hasn’t presented itself yet. She worries the Leader has forgotten her or cast her aside.
This is a dystopian story and has some THE GIVER vibes. People who either aren’t thriving within the society or break the rules are “accomplished,” or removed from society and secretly put to death. Unlike THE GIVER, the land is ruled by a powerful man who preaches doing things “for the good of all,” but rules with an iron hand, and his own self-serving values.
The story reminded me a little bit of the series THE UGLIES by Scott Westerfeld, with its sort of starry-eyed people within the society, and the free-spirited, wilderness groups living outside.
FOR THE GOOD OF ALL is a little different, though, in that it’s really centered around a spiritual message. Tatief governs his people with the mantra, “For the good of all we give ourselves,” but that doesn’t actually play out in a way that fosters the community-minded, loving people that it implies. Instead, the group living in the woods who have been gathered by the Leader and his messengers, are the ones who love and care for one another.
All in all, it’s a cool story that explores deep themes about love versus control or fear. I enjoyed reading it. I think fans of Scott Westerfeld or of dystopian fiction might enjoy this one, too.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Major characters are described as having white or tanned skin.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
There are a couple of made up curses used infrequently.
There is some clear romantic attraction between characters.
Two characters are messengers on behalf of the Leader, who is a Jesus-like character.
Some situations of peril and brief graphic battle violence and violence against unarmed citizens.
One character uses poisons to manipulate and control others.
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