“You know, when you live in a time of progress, it seems that progress is the only possible way. The idea that everything we’d gained, all of those hard-won rights, could be taken away from us, and that open minds could be closed again? But then the Outrage happened.”
Welcome to England, where the Protectorate enforces the Public Good. Here, there are rules for everything – what to eat, what to wear, what to do, what to say, what to read, what to think, who to obey, who to hate, who to love. Your safety is assured, so long as you follow the rules.
Gabriel is a natural born rule-breaker. And his biggest crime of all? Being gay.
Gabriel knows his sexuality must be kept secret from all but his closest friends, not only to protect himself, but to protect his boyfriend. Because Eric isn’t just the boy who has stolen Gabriel’s heart. He’s the son of the chief inspector at Degenerate Investigations - the man who poses the single biggest threat to Gabriel’s life.
And the Protectorate are experts at exposing secrets.
I decided to request and read this book because it is a Young Adult, LGBTQ, dystopian novel, written by William Hussey – it ticks all the boxes for me as being something I might enjoy, and I literally could not wait. My initial thoughts were ‘this will be a fun and interesting read’. What an underestimation! A few pages in I and thought ‘Oh…’, a few more, ‘Oh my God!’, by the end, ‘Oh my God, wow!’.
I finished the book last night and went to sleep thinking of it, woke up this morning thinking of it. I’m not sure any review I write will fully give the praise and justice deserved.
There is so much to the story of Gabe and Eric that is eye-opening, heart-warming, and heart-breaking. The world they live in is a horrific, despicable place, so those few moments where they can be themselves and together are precious, but they are constantly on their guard, even during these times. They are lucky to have an amazing support and camaraderie from their group of friends, the ‘rebels’.
Without wanting to give away any spoilers, you find yourself utterly gripped by Gabe’s situation, and not quite sure where your loyalty lies with other characters. The decisions and actions they must make are sometimes unfathomable, in the least questionable, yet here in their world it is literally life and death. They do what they must in order to survive.
I must stress to anyone thinking of reading this book – PLEASE READ THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS! I have to admit to being guilty of skim reading (or even skipping!) these, I know usually the author thanks their parents, publisher, best friends’ dog etc. But William’s acknowledgements are incredibly important in giving background into book and why it is so important in terms of avoiding complacency regarding LGBTQ rights and history.
As a school librarian I will be purchasing a few copies of this book, at least two for the shelves (although I know several students who will LOVE the story and characters so I doubt they will even hit the shelves before being borrowed) and another to pass to the English Dept and the leaders of our school LGBTQ support group.
Thank you so much to Netgalley and Usborne Publishing for the e-arc.
Edited to add: