This world is believable and scarily enough, something that I could actually see this happening 50-60 years down the line.
Why did I not think of this plot! It is amazing.
The characters are well-rounded and leap from the page, you can really get a sense of the protagonist, Ant. She’s scary, witty, intelligent, tough and a rebel, but her motivation is her little nerdy, scaredy-cat brother, Mattie. Nothing else matters to her but him.
Mattie doesn’t want any trouble but is often dragged into it, either by his parents or by Ant. When inside the prison, he tries and behaves according to the rules so that he will not get into trouble and to stop anything from happening to his sister or his foster parents.
I love the way the author built this world. I think it is realistic and believable and it suits both, the characters and the storyline. In this world, the children or grandchildren of crimes committed by their relatives are imprisoned and have a metal strap on them for people on the outside to identify them. This means everyone knows whether you are a descendant of a criminal or not. Ant and Mattie are in one of the family prisons because of both their biological parents’ crime and the crime committed by their foster grandparents. For this reason, they are imprisoned until their 18th birthday.
I find it amazing how vivid the prison is despite Mayo being refused entrance to prisons for his research. The atmosphere and attitude of the background characters are varied, unique and fit well into the setting he has created. Most of the people outside of the prison fear committing a crime, either because they fear they’ll be imprisoned or their children will. However, Mattie’s and Ant’s biological father is part of a gang and wants valuables that he is willing to sacrifice his children for the things he thinks hold value.
So when Ant is tricked into starting a deadly riot at the prisons, they have to escape to survive. They are not alone, they have a few of their friends from prison with them and Ant contacts her foster brother, Max, for assistance.
They lose and experience so much on this journey. Their foster parents were trapped inside the riot, and they are not sure whether they survived, a friend travelling with them is badly injured that he is approaching death, Ant and Mattie are forced to face their father and many of the people outside the prison are looking for them.
Despite all of this, Ant refuses to let her spirit be destroyed. She is strong all the way through, not for her, but for her brother. The ending is terrific and the book is really well written. I struggled to put it down the whole time I was reading it.
It’s the best Young Adult book I have read in a long time! Just read it. Buy it from the link below!