Ghetto (M L Sparrow & Amazon Kindle) Teens & YA, SCI-Fi/Fantasy Pub'd 9/15/15 3.5 stars (round up to 4 stars in systems that only offer whole)
"My name’s Sunny Grace Beaumont. Branded SGB/2/6895/03.12.93. Only child, self-taught computer geek and cancer survivor. Oh, and did I mention my dad’s the President? As you can imagine that’s sometimes a little problematic, especially when I want to sneak out. But it never got me into quite as much trouble as the night I ventured into the Ghetto – don’t ask me why I was there in the first place… it was stupid. Everyone knows that the Ghetto is where hardened criminals are sent to live out the remainder of their lives. At first the men that kidnap me are just as I’d imagine, mean and thoughtless, but slowly I begin to have doubts.
I meet a guy. His name’s Sin, he has no Brand – a crime punishable by death – and he’s the rebel leader. I should hate him… but I don’t. Instead he opens my eyes to a whole other side of the Ghetto, where people are innocent of the crimes they’re accused of and helpless children suffer dreadful poverty. Is it possible that I’ve been lied to my entire life… that the governments been deceiving everyone? And how can I challenge the law my own dad is adamant to uphold?"
I would like to thank M L Sparrow for granting me a copy of this e-ARC to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review.
I'll admit I began this book with minor prejudice against it. The jacket teaser made it sound like so many other stories currently out there in books, movies, TV shows, etc. And in some ways it is like some of those - but everything is like something else. It's how the author puts their own stamp, or mark, on a popular premise that matters. And Ms. Sparrow did not fail to deliver in this case.
Sunny could have been a real ditz, a spoiled brat, a socialite, but thankfully she wasn't. What I liked about Sunny was her willingness to accept not only flaws in those she cared about, and those around her, but also that she to was just as flawed as the next person. After getting over her initial shock, discovering that other Ghetto was nothing like the beautified version sold to everyone on the outside of its walls, Sunny begins to see the world as it is, not the world people like her dad want everyone to believe in.
The whole cancer issue aside, Sunny has another secret, and it's one that's been tearing her up inside for as long as she can remember. That secret is part of what helps her understand Sin and many of those living in the Ghetto. And for someone who was raised in a pampered prison Sunny has a charming independent, almost rebellious streak. This comes as a shock to many, but especially Sin, for he finds it almost impossible to trust anyone. Especially someone like the Sunny he expected to meet.
I enjoyed the personality clashes between Sin and Sunny. Not only are they entertaining but they also help move the story along. The same goes for the friendships Sunny develops, something she's never had before. So her ability to open up so quickly to total strangers, like her ability to work her way into Sin's heart, make for an odd dichotomy.
For me Sin comes from an very dramatic background, one that's just a bit too much so. Like any bad boy with a good heart he's got some steep walls erected around his emotions. So the speed with which Sunny somehow breaches those walls, when no one else ever has, comes across as feeling a bit rushed to me. But the this whole story takes place in an very short time span, so as flaws go it's a pretty easily forgivable one.
When faced with the real world can her first crush and new friends be enough for her to take a stand when it means publicly standing on the opposite side of the line as her dad? Or will the proclaimed villains from the Ghetto play right into her father's hands, thus cementing their lives in the horror that is the Ghetto? Only reading this entertaining story will answer those questions and many more.
On a more serious note I found the premise of the Ghetto to be a great metaphor for humanity today. Generally we accept what we're told about the way things are, and we swallow it whole, never investigating for ourselves the truth of the stories being fed to us. Is this the way we want to live? Is it a safe way to live? If we close our eyes to what is happening to others, who will stand up to help when it happens to us?
Besides writing, and obviously reading anything I can get my hands on, my other passion is travel. After finishing college I took a break from education to travel, visiting Mexico, Sri Lanka and, my personal favourite, Japan. One day I hope to be able to combine the two and travel while writing professionally.