Book Description The fortress is home to the last remnants of civilization. The few remaining women live in a vault far below the gardens, while the men stand watch and maintain the walls that protect them all. A virus from long ago, and generations of inbreeding since, has left average men severely outnumbered by Simples. Humanity, as it once was, is broken.
Outside those walls live the Wildmen—starving, poor and desperate for the treasures of the fortress. Seeking women to once again fill their own ranks with healthy children, and something other than rats to fill their stomachs, the Wildmen launch one last raid.
One-fifty-two is a Simple man. The raid disrupts his calm and orderly world with smoke and fear, the need for the comfort of his mother and the promises of a lone Wildman captive. With his eyes open to the secrets behind the order he had always known, One-fifty-two must find the courage to stop being a cog and take hold of the wheel—or the fortress may be the end of them all.
My Review This book was well-written and entertaining. I found the societal structure of this post apocalyptic society fascinating and imaginative.
We're introduced right away to the division between Wildmen and the very organized society on the brink of extinction behind the walls of a fortress. Women are scarce and highly sought after, meaning they are well-protected within the vault. Most survivors of the virus that killed much of the world are Simples, or people who have low IQs. The most intelligent are sterile, and the strong "breeders" are few. Thus sets up a society structure that focuses primarily on breeding with an attempt to repopulate the world, with only those of high IQs. Simples are expendable, and the main character, a Simple with only a number and not a name (except for the one he remembers from infancy).
I loved the premise of this story. It satisfied the psychologist in me, as I'm fascinated by how the world would restructure itself. The author did a great job creating this world. However, I did sometimes question the believably of character's motivations.
M biggest issue was with the Simple who is mostly our main character. We also get the perspective of several other characters when necessary and while entertaining, it does make it confusing for some time who is going to be our main character in the story. I also found it difficult to believe that a Simple would be able to figure out everything he does, and in fact, we see him become essentially as intelligent as the others, even more so when he can judge the motivations of other characters and their emotional states. A few other areas left me wondering about how believable it was, such as when the Jacks (SPOILER) so easily let some of the women go, when they've been trained their entire life to protect the women and listen to the Willliams.
Summary: An excellent dystopian world and an entertaining story, but with a few plot hiccups and an unusual POV. I enjoyed it and would recommend anyone who loves Hugh Howey's type of dystopian fiction give it a try.