Thursday, December 8, 2011

MEN in YA: Helper12 by Jack Blaine (Review)

Genre:Young Adult, Dystopian, Thriller
Publication.Date  June 2nd 2011
Published By:  Create Space | 
WebsiteJack Blaine

Helper12- Goodreads
My review copy:Review copy received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Where to get: Amazon

      Helper12 works as a Baby Helper in Pre Ward, the place where babies spend their first six months of life before they’re tracked for vocations and sent to training. She does her job well, and she stays out of trouble. But one day, the Sloanes, Society members who enjoy all the privileges of their station—family unit clearance, a private dwelling, access to good food and good schools—come to “adopt” one of the Pre Ward babies. The Director makes a deal and the Sloanes walk out with a brand new child.

     They also walk out owning Helper12—the Director sells her to them, and there’s nothing she can do but go. At the Sloanes, Helper12 enters a world where people should be able to enjoy life—with high position and riches come the opportunity for individual freedom, even the chance to love—but that’s not what she finds. The Sloanes are keeping secrets. So is their biological son, Thomas.

      Helper12 has some secrets of her own; she’s drawing, which is a violation, since Baby Helpers aren’t tracked for Art. And she’s growing to love the child she was bought to care for—at the same time that Ms. Sloane is becoming disenchanted with her impulse baby buy.

     When all your choices are made for you, how do you make some for yourself? Helper12 is about to find out.

And the norm is what you want to be, in this world.
I feel like I'm blind, like I'm groping along walls in an unfamiliar room, trying to find my way.
The thing that is illegal in the complexes is family. In the complexes, you have to live alone. One person, one cube, that's the rule. You can have sex, you can visit people, you can go places with friends, but you cannot live together. You cannot form a family. You cannot have babies, your own or anyone else's. No love. No families.

     Helper12 by Jack Blaine is a swift-moving, highly addictive dystopian thriller. Dark and revolting, this book is a chilling page-turner that will keep you reading long past your usual bed-time. It's addictive reading, sometimes scary, disturbing, ultimately heart-wrecking and Blaine tells it in a haunting, precise, raw manner.
I was originally tracked as a Breeder. I still have the mark - that's the only reason I know. They tried to remove it, but whoever was on shift at the laser shop that day didn't do a fabulous job. Even though it was done when I was very young, you can still see a part of the B underneath the H they tattooed over it; the skin there is pale, taut scar tissue. I don't know what went wrong - whether they just found out my initial results were skewed or whether I didn't do well on the next level of Breeder tests. I just know that when I was still a toddler, they removed all my Breeder parts, and sent me to train as a Helper. Baby Helper12, WQ Pre Ward, Complex 9C. That's my full title. But they just call me Helper12.
      This is a seriously scary read.  Jack Blaine paints a tremendously nasty vision of a dystopian society where people are bred for many different purposes, from being a Laborer, Helper, Donor to serving as a Leisure Doll. This book is all sorts of disgusting and gross, but at the same time it's also dangerously captivating and fascinating. It's impossible to pause mid-way. I stayed up till 2 AM just so I could finish reading it. I couldn't bear going to sleep not having all the answers. It's a short and quick but also very powerful and immensely satisfying read. Thought-provoking and gut-wrenching, it's a book that explores all the dark and ugly corners of the human soul.
"We've got to be careful," he says, as we neared the door. "We can't behave as though we're friends. Helper, even Driver, I think, would tell Mother. And that would be that for you. Mother would have you sent away."
I feel a chill that the balmy late afternoon air doesn't merit.
"I understand".
"I don't," he says. "I don't understand it at all."
   Jack Blaine's writing style and the premise of his book reminded me in parts of "Enclave" by Anne Aguirre and "Eve" by Anna Carey. It was equally absorbing and easy to read. Captivating and hypnotizing. And similarly unsettling at times. While the idea behind this book may not be entirely unique and innovative, the writing and character-building is excellent. It's true that we don't get much of the background story that would explain how and why the society turned out the way it was described in the book, but as much as I'd enjoy learning that, it didn't affect my enjoyment of this story in a negative way. Quite to the contrary, I think it added to the mysterious atmosphere and the overall sense of danger and uncertainty.

     The plot line was great. It flowed effortlessly, providing just enough details about characters and the setting for the reader to easily picture the scenes, but not too much to slow down the pace and make the story drag. The characters were well-drawn and it was easy to connect with them. Especially Helper12 - I loved her voice! I felt terribly sorry for her, she was practically made to be a slave and never experienced a different life. And yet she never complained, never felt sorry for herself. She was pretty amazing. The "bad guys" were of the sort we all love to hate: vicious, spiteful, despicable. I enjoyed this story and was quite satisfied with the length of it, although I wouldn't mind for it to be slightly longer. I'd definitely like to learn more about Helper12 and Thomas. I'd like to find out more details as to how this society works, who makes the calls, how the whole breeding system started and why. There are so many plot threads to explore, this could easily be turned into a series. 
She'll never know what happened to me. The only person who knows my baby name, the only friend I have in this world, is walking into our building like it's just another day, not knowing that she'll never see me again. I feel tears running down my cheeks. I wonder if anyone will ever call me Benna again.
     The idea of people being bred and tagged for specific functions was just.. appalling and sickening. How god-awful would it be to live in a world like that! Where human beings are disposable and worthless. Where the smallest mistake, like being late for work or doing anything other than what you're designed for (even drawing a picture!), could earn you a life sentence. Where no one cares about you as a person and you could either accept your destiny or die. No names, just tags. No rights, just rules, expectations, orders.  It's as if morality and justice ceased to exist. What a powerful and profoundly horrific vision!

     One thing that I definitely loved about this book was the way the love story between Helper12 and Thomas unfolded. It was oh-so-sexy! The romance was sweet and believable, so natural and so.. deliciously forbidden! There was only a couple of what you'd call love scenes, but they were steamy, sparkly, hot and totally gorgeous. And these few love scenes definitely make it a 16+ read (at least!). There's this one thing that Thomas says to Helper12 that totally made me swoon. I think my cheeks turned bright red at that moment! Awesomeness!

     What more can I say? Helper12 is a really great read. A truly remarkable one! Fans of dystopian stories won't be disappointed!

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Thanks to the fabulous:
Jack Blaine
I have one paperback copy for one lucky US/Canada winner and one eCopy for one of my lovely Internationals!
The giveaway will be posted tomorrow, together with the interview with the amazing Jack Blaine!
Don't forget to stop by and enter! 

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This review is posted as a part of the MEN in YA event (Nov 20th - Dec 20th)
For more awesomeness (reviews, interviews, giveaways, guest posts) please click the banner below!

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About the Author
Evie is the Blogger behind Bookish. She enjoys reading many different genres, especially YA, Paranormal, Contemporary Fiction and Fantasy.
She loves talking to authors and is always happy to welcome them for interviews, and guest posts. She also likes spreading the love for awesome books and  chatting with fellow book-worms.
You can find Evie here: Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Shelfari | The Library Thing


Andra Lyn said...

wow. Sounds terrifying. And sick..and and...and twisted...which means so totally awesome! I haven't heard of this one either! Girl...this event is like tripling my TBR pile...You make everything sound so good! Thanks for another fab review!

Asheley T. said...

oh my goodness, this sounds like the perfect book for me. i'm not sure if that makes me sound sick and twisted or not, but either way...i just added it to my to-read group on Goodreads. your review made my heart skip in unhealthy beats and i'm now DYING to read this!

while this dystopian world sounds really scary and crazy-intriguing to me...i really want to find out more about Thomas!!!

WOW, Evie, you've done it again! thanks, gal! <3

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

Wow, this does sound twisted but amazing at the same time! Great review!! I really want to read this one now, I feel like it will be one of those books that is impossible to put down.


Evie said...

Andra, Asheley and Andrea! (3xA = Awesomeness!) I love you, girls! You're always so awesome with your lovely, supportive comments :D It's thanks to you the whole blogging makes sense! :D
Thanks so much for stopping by to read my review, it really is a great, gripping read and you'll love it! :)


Megan said...

This sounds like an awesome book. I'm adding it to my to-read list!

Evie said...

Thanks Megan! :) It really was a great read:) Thank you for commenting!

FireStarBooks said...

Oh this book reminds me of Brave New World. I can imagine it as something unique and different, not the typical "girl-ish" dystopian. Love! Thank you for the review! Great!!

roro said...

This sounds like an awesome 2me and as always review love

druidgirl said...

Based on your review I would very much like to read this book

Kathy said...

This sounds like a terrifying read. Seems like it has Shades of Enclave which was awesome. Your review left me with my mouth open in shock, and I can only imagine how much more the actual book would be.

Amazing review, Evie!

Bhand35 said...

This is going to go to the top 3 YA dystopian books I will read.

Amanda Nicole said...

I'm pretty much already in love with this book and I haven't even read it yet. After reading your epic review of it, I'm just dying to get my hands on it!! :D

Sana said...

Wow, this books seems exactly like the kind I like to read.

Great review! =D

Enbrethiliel said...


How have I not heard of this book before? It sounds amazing!

That Helper 12 doesn't seem to be the rebellious, "Girl Power" type you'd expect from this sort of story also intrigues me. I'd really like to read more about her.

Thanks for the review, Evie! =)

Gaby said...

WOW I would never think to pick this book up and read it but oh man it does sound really good. I just might rethink reading this :)

gracelo said...

I can honestly say of all your reviews I've read, all of which are already fantastic to their own right, this one is my favourite. The book blurb itself was the kind of thing I'd pour my heart over, but the review only upped the ante of the amazingness of the book. I love the brutal reality the book itself places upon the reader, referring to Benna as only Helper12, the breeding of children, and how easily Ms. Sloane can cast aside the child as one may lose interest in a toy.

Unknown said...

It has a simple cover but the Blurb is a bit complicated so thanks for explaining it through. It sounds really scary, using the babies. That's.. I can't even imagine it. Ugh! I don't know if I'll read this. Great review!

Jaime Lester said...

Scary and disturbing! Yay. I know it is weird that that is appealing to me, but boy how it is. I haven't seen this at the library, but I am going to head over to their catalog and see if they have it now. Thanks for the review!

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