In a future America, the country no longer able to sustain itself, finds a new and abhorrent way to tax their citizens. Any couple with more than one child would subject to “The Tax” an exorbitant fee to punish those who choose to have more than one child, a fee that the many can ill afford. Those children whose parents can't pay the Tax are “Surrendered” at a young age and are forced to earn their keep for the masters by either working the fields, factories or other more harrowing tasks.
Vee and her twin brother Oliver were surrendered at 10 when their parents had their younger sister Jane, both working their way up to positions of respect within the areas they are assigned to. However, when a new influx of surrender's arrive, Vee sees a face she thought she would never have to see and after playing Good Samaritan after a chance encounter leaves Vee fleeing the walls into the unknown.
Vee is the typical strong and feisty girl, quick to judge and with high moral values, although her capacity to care gets her into trouble more often than not. Her journey brings her face to face with her past and the secrets surrounding her and her brothers surrender are painful to watch unfold.
The supporting cast are strong and tight knit, each with their own harrowing tale to tell. Ramsey is a particularly sorrowful tale and I felt for her the most. The story is a little slow paced at times, but the action is very powerful when it reaches its climactic point.
This was an easy and enjoyable read and a very accomplished and polished debut. It was actually really refreshing to have a read that was pretty much a standalone - there is no indication that it is part of a series or the ever popular trilogy. Towards the end I was elated to realise that yes, the story would reach it’s end with pretty much everything tied up, is there scope for further books with these characters, of course! But I like the fact that I am not adding book 1 in another series to my list of started’s and I feel my journey with these characters can be complete.