Caleb is a sub-citizen, taken from the wastelands when he was a child and brought to the City where it was discovered that he possessed psychic abilities. Saved in the nick of time from extermination, he was implanted with a control device that would turn off his abilities and given a Keeper. He spends his days being useful by being a human lie detector and being trailed by his Keeper, Daniel Givens.
Daniel cares for Caleb, and lets him occasionally play in the minds of others because it makes him happy. When Caleb is arrested and detained on trumped up charges, Daniel is at a loss. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Caleb and rescue him. But the rules of the City work against him and Daniel may not succeed.
A story like this hinges on world building, and Mora does a pretty decent job of it. This is a true dystopian future, where an Event has caused most of the world to be too harsh to be inhabited and only within the confines of the domed City is life truly bearable. But of course the System regulates the City to the nth degree, from laws to the lights to the climate. On the surface it’s perfect, but there are those who know better. While I thought the author did a pretty good job of clueing us in, there were a few times I felt a little lost and could have benefitted from a broader description. Mostly, though, I was just able to roll with it and accept what was on the page, even if I didn’t fully understand.
Caleb is making the best of a bad situation. His life is pretty easy and he knows it, and I liked that he didn’t take it for granted. Instead, he knew he was lucky for the way he was treated and for having Daniel as his Keeper. He was allowed liberties that sub-citizens weren’t often allowed. Those born in the outside, sunbloods, are treated as slaves. Caleb at least has a name and a function in society, even though he’s being used. He is snarky and funny and charming in his own way, and I found myself liking him a lot.
I wished that we got to know Daniel a little better though. It’s clear he’s got a big heart, and a total soft spot when it comes to Caleb. I loved the way they related to each other, and I found myself immensely enjoying the moments when they would banter. But I never really understood his motivation, and some of his actions and thoughts seemed to contradict each other. But he is stalwart and has a deep sense of morality that I liked seeing. I also liked that he was willing to stop at nothing to get Caleb back.
I hesitate to call this a romance though, because we don’t see much of either man’s feelings for the other. Yes, there are romantic elements, and it’s implied, but not quite said, at the end of the tale exactly how deep their connection goes. As a dystopian tale, this was well done. But for me, the romance isn’t there until the very end. And just as that started to get going, the story finished. I would have absolutely loved to see more of these two as they were finding their way, with each other and in their new existence. In that respect, the ending was a tiny bit of a letdown for me. Just as I was really invested is when the story concluded. And I have to admit that there were a few moments that were just a little too deus ex machina for me.
Overall, though, I have to say that this was a well written story. I had a few quibbles, yes, but that didn’t stop my enjoyment of it for what it was. A quick read with some fascinating world building. If you’re a fan of dystopian societies, and characters working against the system, then I would suggest Sunblood as one to add to your collection.