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The Culling
     

The Culling

4.5 12
by Steven dos Santos
 

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Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance

Overview

Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die For Lucian “Lucky” Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an “Incentive”—a family member—to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he’ll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother. Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits’ loved ones. What Lucky isn’t prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly...

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A heart-pounding page turner." —VOYA
VOYA - Courtney Huse Wika
In The Culling, The Establishment governs after America falls. The only remnant of the "land of the free" is the crumbling Statue of Liberty; in this new world, citizens are deprived of food, heat, and electricity, and The Establishment's minions, the Imposers, patrol the streets culling anyone who shows the slightest resistance to its forces. Each year, five recruits are chosen for The Trials, and each recruit has two family members identified for them; failure during any part of the trials results in the recruit having to kill one the "incentives." If both incentives are "shelved" during the course of the trials, the recruit loses. The "winner" is awarded a place within The Establishment. Betrayed by an old love, Lucian Sparks is sentenced to The Trials. Fighting for his life and the lives of his 4-year-old brother and his adoptive mother, Lucian must also negotiate his feelings for a fellow recruit. There is no doubt that "Lucky" will be responsible for the death of someone he loves; the question is, how many? Original and compelling enough to stand on its own, it would be a mistake to label this book a more brutal and violent version of The Hunger Games. Refreshingly, the novel presents sexual orientation and sexuality in a noncontroversial light; while the protagonist is gay, his orientation is not central to the conflict, nor is it something that needs to be explicitly addressed. A heart-pounding page-turner, fans of fantasy and adventure will eagerly await the second installment. Reviewer: Courtney Huse Wika
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—The Establishment controls everyone and everything in this bleak future world. Sixteen-year-old Lucky and his four-year-old brother, Cole, live in a rundown building and have little to eat. Their parents are dead, and they have only a friendly (but sickly) neighbor to watch over them. Lucky does his best to provide for Cole. When the time comes for The Establishment to choose its new Recruits, Lucky risks being thrown in prison to get in touch with an old friend, now high in rank, to try to save himself from being recruited. Unfortunately, his actions have the opposite result when the friend betrays him. Along with four others, he must compete to win every round of Trials or else choose which of the two people he cares about most will die. Lucky's situation is made even more complicated by his affection for and attraction to Digory, a rebellious and handsome young man. The book has an interesting, disturbing concept, but it is not very original. Lucky seems bright, and yet makes large errors in judgment. This novel is similar to Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games in its brutality, but it fails to provoke the same emotional attachment readers feel for the characters in Collins's blockbuster. In some ways, this dystopian vision seems even more unsettling; throughout the Trials, the Recruits' loved ones are killed in increasingly disturbing ways.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
Lucian "Lucky" Spark has run out of luck; he's been selected as a candidate for the Recruitment, a series of brutal tests designed to be a fast track to military leadership for a few of the most promising individuals of society. But there's a catch--one of the four recruits Lucky is pitted against is Digory Tycho, a charming young man for whom Lucky is developing a strong attraction. When Lucky and Digory are assigned as each other's Incentives--effectively, as hostages to ensure cooperation and competition within the trials--they must choose where love and loyalty lie. Except for the gay romance, dos Santos' debut is a by-the-numbers dystopian: An overwhelming divide separates rich and poor; the harsh government crushes resistance; vicious death matches result in lots of gore. Lucky's concern for his little brother (who is initially held by the government to ensure Lucky's cooperation), his gradual embrace of the resistance movement and his sudden survival skills are all familiar tropes as well. There's a certain appeal to dos Santos' depiction of LGBTQ characters--Lucian is treated harshly for being a traitor, not for being gay, and same-sex marriage is routine. None of the supporting characters are developed beyond their flaws, and the gruesome nature of the death traps borders on gratuitous. Entirely derivative from start to finish, it will probably nonetheless appeal to those still obsessed with the torture genre and stands as a rare dystopia in which gay characters exist. (Dystopian romance. 12 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738735375
Publisher:
North Star Editions
Publication date:
03/08/2013
Series:
Torch Keeper Series , #1
Pages:
420
Sales rank:
433,721
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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Meet the Author

Steven dos Santos (Miami, FL) spent most of his working career in the legal field, even going to law school for a couple of years before realizing that if he was going to be telling “creative truths,” he’d prefer to be writing novels.

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The Culling 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
      The Culling is a very dark and gritty story. It has gore, it has emotions out the wazoo, it has characters put in impossible situations, forced to make choices that kids should never, ever have to make, and I could not take my eyes from the page.       While I liked the book and respected what Lucky was trying to do for his little brother, I was pretty confused at the beginning. When you have a world and a government that is different from ours now, there needs to be some explanation of what exactly is going on, and I didn't quite get that. New terms and phrases were flying around and it took me out of the story because I couldn't remember if any explanation who or what that person's function was and what it really meant. I picked it up as I went along though, and because there is action and some depth of the characters going on, I didn't give up on it.      It was hard getting to know the characters though because I knew that all of them wouldn't survive. They were learning to work as a team, but then they would remember that alliances really are not going to help them because their family members are on the line.      I have read a lot of dystopias, and I see a lot of the same threads as the Hunger Games. This is not saying that Steven hasn't put his own twists on it, because he had, I just couldn't help lining up the kids making alliances, the different districts that contributed different things. Again, not a criticism, just a statement.      Being in Lucky's head was a good change. I feel like I don't read too much with a male POV, unless it is dual perspective, so that is always a positive. Though, I did keep almost forgetting that he was a guy because of the attraction and tension between him and Digory. Nothing against the LGBT, but I am straight, and it is a hot guy, and from the first person, it puts me in Lucky's shoes, so therefore...      Oh, and the ending. It broke my heart. Nothing was actually definite but I don't know how they could pull off not breaking my heart.  Bottom Line: Dark and emotional story with a courageous main character who makes choices he should never have to. 
Katie_breathofbooks More than 1 year ago
When I saw the premise of this book, it reminded me of The Hunger Games, which is a book that I loved. That was one of the reasons I wanted to read this book. Now that I've read it, I can say that, though there are some similarities, this book is very different from The Hunger Games, but it is equally as amazing. This book is dark and gory, so be prepared for this when you start reading it. POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD Lucian Spark is the protagonist of this book, and he is a wonderfully well-written character. He really is a good guy. One of the best things about him is how much he cares about his four-year-old brother, Cole. He would do anything for Cole, and this is one of the reasons why being Recruited is so horrible for Lucky. He knows that, if he messes up, Cole will have to die. He couldn't bear that, so he is determined to not lose a Trial. The other four Recruits are characters that are fully developed. As the story progresses, I loved every one of them, even when they were at their worse. Some of them do some awful things, but deep down, none of them are bad people. They are all complex and layered. Once I came to love all these characters, I had to read about them going through so many horrors, and it was one of the most heart-breaking parts of the book. Digory is a caring guy, and he is so kind to Lucky throughout the Trials, and the training before them. Gideon is a character who was always bullied at school. He has a tragic past and home life that none of the other Recruits know about until they find out about it during the Trials. Cypress is a character who is holding some secrets. She seems rather hot and cold at first, being nice and them not so nice. Once you really get to know her character, you can tell that she is a great person who's been through a lot of bad things. The fourth Recruit is Ophelia, a character who could be quite brutal in the Trials. Even when, sometimes, it seems like her character should be disliked for what she does, I never did dislike her. At the core, she really isn't much different than Lucky. He's fighting for his younger brother's life, and she's fighting for her younger sister's life. Their motives are really the same, but she often has some more brutal methods that she uses to reach her goals. The romance in the book between Digory and Lucky is well written and fits into the story perfectly. It isn't a major part of the story, and it is rather subtle for most of the book. That made the romance more realistic. In a world where these two boys are fighting for their loved ones lives or death, it wouldn't be realistic for there to be a huge focus on the romance. They had much more important things to be concentrating on. The romance is sweet and slow developing. It is clear through the training and Trials that Lucky and Digory care for each other. The world building in the book is also well done. It isn't confusing the way the world is written. The Establishment is the totalitarian government that rules. It is a horrific government, and I would never want to live in that world. The idea of the Trials, and how they worked, was also easy to follow. There were five Recruits who each had two Incentives. The loser of each Trial had to undergo The Culling, and the overall winner would become an Imposer in the elite military force. If you like dark YA dystopian, read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have to say that The Culling by Steven Dos Santos is probably the best book I have read all year. It is well written with a thrilling and intricate plot. It tells you that you have hope and then it takes your heart and twists it together. All of the characters are well developed, fantastic, and you have no choice but to root for each one during The Trials. There are some minor formatting mistakes, not on the part of the author, but just simple printing problems. But besides that its an amazing book. All I have to say is that I can't wait for the sequel. May your torch stay lit!(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who would you chose to let live? The mother who raised you and loved you from the very beginning? The little brother, that depends on you because there is no one else? The love of your life? Your soul mate? It’s the kind of choice no one ever wants to make. But for Lucian (Lucky) Spark, as well as the four other recruits forced to compete in a series of trials that may or may not save their loved ones from the horrific, unthinkable “culling,” choosing is not an option. From page one, I knew I was going to love Lucky’s selfless ways. His strength to do whatever it takes to save his angelic little brother Cole from murder by the Establishment, was, undoubtedly, heart wrenching. But I never thought I’d develop such strong feelings for several of the other characters as well. By the end of the book, I knew who I wanted to claim victory over the trials…I just didn’t know who I could let lose. Steven Dos Santos’ debut novel kept me guessing, hoping, and frantically turning pages well into the night. I put it down quicker as I approached the end, not wanting it to end—not wanting to lose any of the characters that I had grown to love, and admire so deeply. To say I’m anticipating book two in the Torch Keepers series is an understatement—I absolutely cannot wait to see how Lucky and Cole’s life changes, as the next stage of their journey begins.
CathyCastelli More than 1 year ago
I had no idea I would love this book so much. Another reviewer compared it to the Hunger Games. I say, it's sort of like the Hunger Games only with the heat turned up! Dos Santos is a master plotter with characters that you just have to cheer for. I also love that, while this is a three-part series, the first book ends by completing the main conflict. Of course, I can't wait for the next installment.
MSharif More than 1 year ago
Reading Dos Santos' writing, it's hard to believe he's a debut author. The pacing and tension are superb, and chapter by chapter I yearned to know what happened next. The writing is dark and the author knows how to torture his characters--Lucky and the other recruits--but it all makes for a fantastic story rich in both action and emotion. Dos Santos rocks the dystopian genre. I can't wait for book two.
StacyDavidsPhD More than 1 year ago
Superb! It’s like Steven King meets Tales of the Crypt! A horror-filled, roller coaster ride! The story is action-packed, and the events are truly shocking! Even in the softer scenes, the tension is tremendous! Lucian "Lucky" Spark tries to survive through unimaginable emotional and physical torture. He and the other recruits are in a chronic state of crisis, and you, the reader, are right there with them. The vivid descriptions and deepening plot pull you in and never let go. I cannot say enough about Steven dos Santos' superior writing. The book has just been released, and I have no doubt it will win awards. Obviously, I highly recommend "The Culling."
APadron More than 1 year ago
Steven dos Santos's debut novel "The Culling" is an absolute must-read. Not only will the tension keep you intrigued, but the descriptive text that dos Santos so cleverly crafted will make you feel like you are right there in the scenes with the characters. The plot thickens with every chapter and all throughout the book you feel an emotional connection with everyone, especially Lucian "Lucky" Spark and his younger brother Cole. The story is gripping and exciting, you'll be wanting more. And you'll be in luck because next year the second book in the Torch Keeper series will be released! Can't wait to read more from dos Santos - he is truly a gifted writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best teen dystopian I've ever read! The plot is really intricate and in every chapter there's some kind of surprise or suspense. All the characters are well developed and I literally could not put this book down once I started. It's really powerful and has a great love story too!
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Flux Books, and Netgalley.) 16-year-old Lucian or ‘Lucky’ lives with his 4-year-old brother Cole. His parents are both dead, and the only other friendly face is that of his elderly neighbour (elderly being age 40!), who is dying from a sort of lung infection. Lucian’s society is ruled by a group known as ‘The Establishment’, and every so often they have a ‘recruitment’, where 5 kids are picked to go into ‘special training’. This special training involves the five kids going through 5 trials, at the end of each trial, whoever comes last must pick one of their 2 ‘incentives’ to die. These ‘incentives’ are the two people closest to the recruit – parents, siblings, children etc. Lucky finds himself a recruit, along with one of his friends – Digory. Who will be the only victor of the trials? Who will die first? And can Lucian save his brother? Quite simply, this is a grislier version of ‘The Hunger Games’ (yes, apparently that’s possible), and also reminds me a bit of the film ‘The Cube’ with the things that happen during the tasks. It also has a much rawer feeling to it, and when stuff happens, it’s pretty gruesome. The five recruits are expected to battle it out, they’re set tasks in an arena, and whoever finishes last gets one of their ‘incentives’ killed, and they are the one who has to choose which one (out of their two closest lover ones – a spouse, children, parents etc). Gross huh? But that’s not the end of it, because they have to watch their loved one get their head chopped off, or eaten alive by rats, or some other awful death, and in these tasks that they have to complete –there are loads of people who are ill or diseased, and when the task is over - they get melted with acid –alive! I did enjoy some parts of this book, there were some scenes that were okay, but there were a lot of bits that went a little too far for me. I’m not liking horror at the moment, and some of the events in this book were just too gruesome for me. This is definitely not a book for kids – think ‘resident evil’. I also wasn’t expecting the gay love triangle! Nothing against homosexuals – do as you please, I just wasn’t expecting it! Think this is the first gay love triangle I have ever come across to be honest. It’s amazing that even in a twisted, dystopian world where people are fighting for their lives, the author puts in a love triangle – oh yeah, that happened in the hunger games too! Overall; I think maybe older male teens might enjoy this book, it’s a bit like a horror movie really, and there’s a ‘war’ sort of feeling to it too. It was a bit too raw and gruesome for me though. 6 out of 10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many things to love about Steven Dos Santos' book one in the Torch Keeper Series, The Culling. It has all of the fast paced, tension packed, page-turning feel of the post-apocalyptic genre, but with the close to character feel of a truly satisfying read. The Culling asks big unthinkable questions. Should you have to choose between the people you love? And if you had to, who would you choose? The hero of the book, Lucian Sparks does everything he can to protect his little brother, Cole, from the brutality of the Establishment's recruitment practice where five citizens are chosen to undergo violent and extreme trials in order to save their 'incentives,' two loved ones that are held hostage and sacrificed one at a time until just one recruit is left standing. Steven doesn't pull punches with either the trials or the decisions. He makes us love each character and then watch as they are forced into grotesque competitions and imposssible choices. The Culling is dark, but not without light. The underlying theme is that love survives everything. the Establishment may be able to force the recruits to compete to the death (of their loved ones), but they can't take away their humanity. This makes the Culling a must read.