Holding the classification of Y Negative, Ember lives his life against the grain for which he finds himself bullied and harassed, not to mention struggling to make ends meet. All he wants is to live the life of a masc, or at least as close as possible, without the threat of harm. His family disagrees, his friends don’t see his need to be different, but Ember still walks his lonely road.
Jess is a masc doing his best to assume his deceased dad’s role, even though he refuses to tell his father, CEO of CamCo, an environmental research company. He has a boyfriend he loves but is not in love with. Jess knows there’s something more out there for him, he just doesn’t know how to get it.
When Jess’s CamCo team is in need of a new techie, Jess goes directly to Atlanta to find Ember, who worked on the company’s equipment before. Ember jumps at the chance, seeing as the boost in cash helps to procure the injection he takes weekly, securing his hopeful crossover from Y Negative to masc. All he has to do is spend a couple of months in the unknown with a group of mascs who look down on him because he’s Y Negative. Nothing he hasn’t dealt with his whole life.
Jess despises the way the others treat Ember and further he doesn’t understand his own feelings for the man. On his birthday, things get a little crazy and once Jess kisses Ember, there’s no turning back. Determined to explore this thing between them, Jess and Ember ignore their friends’ disapproval and the heartbreak they’ve caused and move forward. That is until the wild faction who live by no one’s rules breach the CamCo building. In the midst of death, heartbreak, and the unknown, Jess and Ember struggle not only to survive, but to remain true to each other.
I noticed this book months and months ago and I was so excited to read it because I have a weakness for dystopian fantasies, but to be honest, I really wasn’t feeling it. One thing I will say is that the premise of the story is fabulous, but I felt like as a reader I was led to the edge of something spectacular, but not given the full picture.
The way the author deals with gender identity is intriguing. At one point there is even a line that struck me as groundbreaking, which identifies who exactly the Y Negatives are. And I like the mystery of it, although the reasons for Y Negatives and Ember in particular taking drugs or enhancers is unclear until 66% of the way through the book. I had ideas, but nothing solid and the more classifications the author added outside of Y Negative and masc, the more I found myself confused.
There is a lot of time that the group spends in Arkansas (shout out!) that I feel could have been omitted. Whether redundant or plain uneventful, the middle of this book lags so much that I began to lose interest even before the scavengers entered the picture. After they appear, I was frustrated because there are accusations made with no basis and no proof, and I could see the point, yet in the end we don’t truly find out if these things are factual or not. Is CamCo bad? What about the testosterone injections, is that intentional? I was confused by the point of the scavengers in the end because they added a little bit of a conflict, but not enough to do any lasting damage to the story or to the relationship between Jess and Ember.
The world that this author built, however, is wonderful. The downfall of the environment and of society as a whole and the effects each had on the land is interesting. I enjoyed everything about it. The classifications, while a bit confusing, were engrossing. I’m not exactly sure whether it would be called mpreg had Ember been pregnant, but luckily that’s not something I’ll have to think about here.
As decent as the premise of this book, it was so fantastically confusing at times. I wanted more detail, more background, more understanding, but I didn’t get it. Instead, what I got was a book that was simply okay and not one I would read again.