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Advanced genetic engineering and upsettingly plausible caste oppression keep pages turning in this futuristic science fiction tale.
The planet Loka was originally settled by humans fleeing Earth, but now part of the population is made up of Genetically Engineered Non-humans. GENs rank lowest socially, destined by the Infinite to serve trueborns. They're vulnerable at any moment to painful uploads (via facial tech-tattoo) into their brain and nerves or, worse, resetting—erasure of their consciousness so their body can be recycled. Teenage Kayla awaits her service Assignment with trepidation; she could be sent across the continent and never see her nurture-family again. Surprisingly Assigned to care for an elderly high-status trueborn (aren't Kayla's genetically enhanced super-strong arms geared for heavy lifting?), Kayla stumbles into forbidden friendship and baffling information that threatens her basic beliefs. Sandler tinkers with race issues, making high-status trueborns "the perfect color, a rich medium brown," with lower-status humans and GENs either paler or darker. None of the three third-person-limited narrators have particularly distinct voices, but that's OK: The prose is clear, though sometimes unpolished, and two underground movements—one evil, one righteous—provide plenty of charge, as does the exposure of Loka's corrupt back story. A late revelation somewhat undermines the everyone's human message, more through textual clumsiness than intention.
A good option for science-fiction fans interested in genetic engineering, rebellion and class issues. (Science fiction. 13 & up)
Posted March 20, 2012
This story mostly follows two different girls. The first is Mishalla who is assigned to be a caretaker of young children. Mishalla quickly realizes that things are not good at her facility as her supervisor will come in the middle of the night and forcefully remove selected children. If she complains or gets in the way of the enforcers, she faces being realigned. When you are realigned, it is like being reprogrammed, everything you were is gone and replaced with new programming. You don’t remember your friends, your family, or even your old self.
The other is girl Kayla and she has been assigned as a caretaker for an elderly disabled man, Zul Manel. Kayla tries to do everything right for fear of being realigned, but someone passes her a secret package and asks her to carry it into the high society position she is going to. The family of Zul doesn’t want her there and Kayla quickly realizes the old man treats her differently from everyone else. She soon realizes that Zul might know about her secret and that he might be willing to help her achieve her secret goal.
When I first started reading this story, there were a lot of unfamiliar terms in the first few chapters and it was difficult to decipher their meanings from the text. After a couple of chapters it did get a bit easier. As with any new world, there was a lot of world building that had to be done. Once I was past the first few chapters the terminology got easier and the story got much more interesting.
I did feel that this story was going to continue into a second book, but I haven’t seen any series listings or information on a next book. I just think that the story can go on and I am not ready to quit with the story of Kayla and the other TankBorns.
Posted February 15, 2012
The energy behind Tankborn’s intriguing story had me glued to the pages from the beginning. We are introduced to a world where Genetically Engineered Non-humans, or GENs, are produced to perform designated jobs. In reality, they are slaves that are obligatory into subjection and at the mercy of a brutal caste system putting them at the very bottom. Karen Sandler’s very detailed and well thought-out society and the two different religions to which humans and GENs follow were very fascinating. The development of the characters was solid and there were moments I felt compassion and grief for them.
The story follows two GEN friends, Kayla and Mishalla. They are reaching the age when they will find out their assignments. During this transition, they ultimately discover who they really are and they really stand for. Meanwhile, there is an unhurried romance build up for the two GENs.
This is a very pleasant dystopian novel with memorable characters living in a complex story. The words within the pages paced nicely. Sandler’s description of the struggle of the lower class, the present status of the human race, and the explanation of the GENs were genius. I certainly hope that a sequel will come forth because I was saddened when I turned the last page. I would like to just even get a glimpse of where the story takes Kayla and Mishalla beyond the last page.
Posted January 21, 2012
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion.
From Goodreads: "Best friends Kayla and Mishalla know they will be separated for their Assignments. They are GENs, Genetically Engineered Non-humans, and in their strict caste system, GENs are at the bottom rung of society. GENs are gestated in a tank and sent to work as slaves as soon as they reach age fifteen."
I really, really enjoyed this dystopian book! Set in a new world, there is a caste system set up so that the highborns can enjoy their lives fully, being the richest and most powerful of all of the trueborns. The lowest of the low are the tankborns. They GENs, and as they are a combination of human DNA spliced with animal DNA, they are considered nonhuman, and are the slaves to all of the other classes.
Kayla and Mishalla are best friends, but something is different about them. Even though they are only tankborn, they question things that other tankborns wouldn't even think of questioning. They are both approached separately to transport illegal data, for reasons that will become clear in the book.
I really loved the world building in this book! It always amazes me how a writer can take an idea of a world and then describe it in a way that you feel you are there, walking around with the characters, seeing all of the different things that they are seeing! Karen Sandler has a real gift for this, let me tell you! The character growth also impressed me a great deal. Kayla begins as a naive, sheltered girl, nervous about getting her Assignment. Through the book she learns that things are not always as they seem and this changes and matures her. The same is true of Mishalla. They both fall for trueborns and this also impacts their growth.
I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to find out what is going to happen next :D
Posted October 18, 2011
Tankborn is a dystopian novel that is set on a different planet, although it seems much like Earth. It's also science-fiction-ey with the genetic engineering as a predominant part of the society.
There are a lot of interesting elements to this book. There's genetic splicing of animal DNA to human DNA to make new GENs with special strengths, tattoos used to hook up datapods to the GENs, a strict caste system, and hover cars! I've always been a fan of hover cars!
There's an obvious social message in this book, told through the caste system. The highborns and lowborns are differentiated by their eye and skin color, as well as the clothing and jewelry they wear. The GENs have no status at all as they are not even considered human. These ranks and issues mirror the problems our society has/has had with different races, religions, and economic levels. While I embraced the idea of exploring these issues in the book, I felt like I was being hit over the head with it. There was so much exposition on it from each character, over and over, saying the same things, it got old very quickly for me.
Overall, it's an interesting book and worth a read if you enjoy dystopian and/or science fiction novels.
*Disclaimer: I received this book for review from the publisher through Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review.
Posted October 9, 2011
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Here's a new one on "1984" and "Animal Farm," combined! Pay attention to Karen Sandler when she writes! "Tankborn," refers to the quasi-people and animal mixes (GENs) Sandler's new world produces by way of gene-DNA-splicing to birth "lowborns." These "lowborns" are made to be the workers, indeed the slaves, of the new world--and to set the lowest chaste of the society. While the GENs think and feel for the most part at different levels parceled out to them, they can be reprogrammed and reset to perform tasks. They can also be killed and abused at a whim. These tankborns are the most vulnerable and disposable of all "people" in society. In addition, they've been created to set the lowest rung of the societal scale, creating a hierarchy for marking the "trueborns." They are cloaked in superstition, have mottled and a plethra of different skin colors and hair texture, and can also resemble some of the animals spliced into their genes. Into this tankborn mix we're introduced to our main characters Kayla and her "tanksister," Mishalla. They, of course, have no idea if they are sisters, but their close friendship keeps them connected. At the age of puberty Gen's are separated from their Nurtur and given an Assignment. Kayla's Assignment to an elderly highborn allows her path to cross with her friend who is operating as a Nurtur for baby orphans. In a nutshell, the babies begin to be "taken" or to disappear. Disturbed by this, Kayla and Mishalla work together to find out why and where they're taken. Kayla suspects she may have been one of these disappeared babies since she has a different face pattern and personality than the other tankborns. She's always felt different from her fellow GENs. I've given you as much of the background story as I can without spoiling it for you! Now, it's up to you to discover the secrets of this captivating book, and to make your own conclusions about the gene-splicing. I found "Tankborn" a book I didn't want to stop reading. Its difference lies in the realism Ms Sandler creates around her characters. This is not a too sweet and too romantic story, but one with a contemplative warning. She presents her story as if it takes place in this timeframe, and as if it reflects our own society or one that could be closely related to ours in the 21st century. The concept of a hierarchy in society isn't a new one. The idea of enslaving a group of people to assure the "haves" remain in control, in power and at the top of the financial structure is familiar throughout history. Revolt and rising up against tyranny is inate, as well. I thoroughly enjoyed "Tankborn," and can recommend it to you. It's one I would get for your Kindle or Nook. 4 unspliced stars Deborah/TheBookishDameWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 9, 2011
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Description: Tankborn by Karen Sandler begins with friends Kayla and Mishalla, two Genetically Engineered Non-humans, (GENs), and the futuristic caste society in which they live. Both girls live in the slumlands and are treated as vagrants because all GENs are created, modified, and born in tanks, not in a human mother's womb. Non-GENs get a choice in their upbringing and future, but for Kayla and Mishalla the future is bleak. The only assignment is that of slavery. Kayla manages to be assigned to the service of an trueborn elderly man named Zul Manel as a caregiver to his family and children, and it is here that she discovers the terrible reality of what it really means to be a tankborn GEN. Especially when the children of the Manel household begin disappearing and Kayla must find out who she can trust in order to find the children before it is too late. Review: I received Tankborn from publisher Lee and Low Books on NetGalley and immediately loaded it into my Kindle because I had been hearing good things about it; and guess what, the rumors were true! I like a book with a strong plot, developed characters, fast-paced dialogue, and a sci-fi twist, all of which I found in this beautifully covered ebook. I recently discovered the Dystopian genre and this was a welcome addition to my collection. I loved the terminology as well as the use of the caste system. The rich descriptions of color, race, and class added to the beautiful language usage, especially when describing characters like Kayla, Jal, and Zul. I am a really visual person, so the more details the better. The pace of the book was well appreciated, it took me a few hours to finish, and it was engrossing enough that I was sad when I turned the last digital page and realized it was over. Overall, Tankborn was thoroughly enjoyable Dystopian read that was put together Velcro-tight and had me wishing there was more to be read. Rating: On the Run (4.5/5)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 4, 2011
Pretty much from the second I started this book, I was hooked. This was a big world to create, and Karen Sandler did a phenomenal job introducing the reader to characters, the lifestyle, the religion, and just the world itself.
The big thing for me as a reader is going along for the emotional ride with the characters, which I definitely felt like I did with Kayla and Mishalla. I felt their anxiety, their hope, their anger and all the other emotions they went through in the course of this book.
As this story unwrapped itself, it became apparent that there was so much more going on in their world than either girl knew was possible. I'll definitely say that I found myself surprised at a lot of the outcomes in this story.
There were definitely a lot of anxiety ridden moments in this book. I found myself nervously chewing my fingernails while reading because I was worried for the characters.
Although the ending was good, it wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I'm not disappointed with it; I just wanted the story to go on forever.
Posted September 21, 2011
Kayla and Mishalla are GENS (Genetically Engineered Non-humans), people made from human and animal DNA to be slaves for the high class trueborns. When each receives their Assignments on their 15th year, they find themselves involved with something more involving the children Mishalla is assigned to care for and the trueborn family Kayla works for.
I can honestly compare this favorably with the few Octavia Butler books I've read. And that is high praise indeed. While Tankborn seemed a bit heavy-handed sometimes with the genetically engineered slave concept, it was still a really enjoyable read and pretty thought-provoking. Kayla and Mishalla are ready made sympathetic characters and it is easy to care for them and their plight. The castes system in the book was a little confusing to me with the trueborns, lowborns and GENS and all the classifications in the middle. But really it was important to establish who everyone was and how they all fit together. Like I said, I really liked Kayla and Mishalla and their romantic interests were pretty likeable too. I liked seeing the growth of Devak, the grandson of Kayla's Assignment. The conspiracy of the plot was fairly surprising and actually a little horrifying as I become invested in all the characters. There were a few subplots that were not addressed and so I wonder if they are planning a sequel.
Posted August 27, 2011
This is a great science fiction book for readers that normally don't read science fiction to ease into the genre. This book is not confusing in the slightest, the author explains quite well while still incorporating the facts into the novel.
Kayla is the first character the reader meets. She is a Tankborn, the part of society created to satisfy the desires of the lowborn-who did not want to be the lowest rung of society. The Tankborn also contain animal genes that are meant to enhance their skills at their jobs for the other members of society. Kayla is sent, at the tender age of sixteen, to care for an older man's basic needs. She finds herself caught up in a world of secrets and intrigue.
Mishalla is Kayla's best friend and also a Tankborn. She is sent to care for lowborn orphans...but they keep disappearing randomly. She knows she has to find out what is going on and why.
The characters in this book are daring, brave, kind, and caring. The reader will really form a connection with Kayla and Mishalla. They are extremely likable. Their thoughts and actions keep the reader updated and make it that much easier to understand the story. The plot is interesting and fits the dystopian and science fiction genres perfectly. The events flow well together and are fast-paced. This book was surprisingly fun to read and recommended to those who enjoy science fiction, dystopian novels, and intrigue.
Posted August 22, 2011
I received this book as a galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Kayla is a GEN, a Genetically Engineered Non-Human, born into a life of servitude and a member of the lowest rung of society. Despite her life's hardships, she loves the people she has come to know as her family and is not looking forward to her official assignment at the age of 15. When she receives a mysterious package that she must deliver and is then assigned to serve a high ranking family, her ideas about her place in life and who she is start to unravel. Her best friend Mishalla sees children disappearing and doesn't know why. With the help of her master's great-grandson, Kayla races to discover the truth behind who she is and what might be happening to the children.
This story was very involved and quite gripping. It takes place in the far future on a planet that was inhabited after earth's resources were depleted. Society is highly structured and who you are and how you were born mean everything. People's skin color, clothing and even technology all tell you where they belong and how they rank. My first observation was that it sounded very much like the caste system in India. In fact, after reading the afterward, it turns out that the author was inspired in part by the stories that an Indian friend told her. The story keeps you on the edge of your seat, as Kayla races, hides and dodges certain destruction to try to discover why children are disappearing and what that has to do with her own origins. This was a book that kept me up late because I couldn't put it down.
As a tool in the classroom, I think that it works well in bringing forward discussions about our own societal hierarchy and how this kind of prejudice, regarding where you come from or your skin tone, has existed and still does. The fact that it is set on a different planet removes it from the context of our own history and brings it somewhere neutral so that it is free to be discussed without the burden of our own history and prejudices. The conversation can then be brought back and compared to similar situations in our own time, like slavery or the feudal system.
My own big issue with this book, and the reason I cannot give it 4 stars, is the way it introduces new language. The story moves very well, but it almost tries too hard to be sci-fi, and that holds it back. It is one thing to introduce a new planet and a few new words, but when you have 2 or 3 created words in a sentence and several on each page, it becomes distracting and confusing. All of my favorite sci-fi books have included words that belong only to that world, but they are presented in such a way that it gives context and makes it easy to assimilate into your own reading vocabulary. There were several instances where new words are thrown at you so often that it takes away from the story. This type of writing can be off-putting to people who don't think that they like reading sci-fi, which is a shame. (I believe that more people should be reading sci-fi, but that's just me.) I only mention it because I felt it took away from a very good story.
Despite that small observation, this was a good, thought provoking book.
Posted November 23, 2011
No text was provided for this review.