Extinction of all children
By L. J. Epps
A young adult, fantasy novel about a teenager who is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory. There will never be another child; every baby born after her has been taken away. Everyone wonders why she survived.
Emma Whisperer was born in 2080, in the small futuristic world of Craigluy. President Esther, in charge for the last twenty-two years, has divided their world into three territories, separated by classes-the rich, the working class, and the poor-because she believes the poor should not mingle with the others. And, the poor are no longer allowed to have children, since they do not have the means to take care of them.
Any babies born, accidentally or willfully, are killed. Emma is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory; every baby born after her has died. Somehow, she survived this fate.
Thank you to Netgalley for allowing me to read this in exchange for an honest review.
As a massive fan of Children of men it was the title that drew me in as it sounded like it might have some similarities. After reading it I would recommend Extinction of all children to young adult fans of dystopian books.
Emma Whisperer is the last eighteen year old in her territory. People are allocated a territory according to their social class and President Esther has passed a law stating that nobody from Territory L is allowed to have a child as they are too poor. Any time this law is broken the parents are thrown in jail and the child is killed.
As the last eighteen year old Emma is invited to a special dinner party at the presidents house and invited to make a speech about how thrilled she is to be the last eighteen year old. Emma isn’t happy about the speech; she thinks that the current situation is unfair and she is more than happy to see say much to her family’s disapproval.
I loved the main premise of this book especially as like all good dystopian novels it contains elements of real life. As someone who is interested in Sociology I have read a lot of books on social class and society and there have been sociologists who have argued that those who are living in poverty are not able to provide adequate life chances for their children. In the past there were a lot of studies to suggest that if you were born into a lower class family there was little chance of you being able to attain a higher class during your lifetime and that seems to be the case in this book.
The opening paragraph of the book sets the tone very well:
‘Today the wind is colder – sharper – and it whips right through my bones. Even so, I continue to run as fast as I can through the wooded area. I have to make it back home before dark. If I’m found on the streets after dark, it means I’m not following orders and my family might not receive our daily supplies; supplies we need to make it in this land.”
Early on Emma explains the stark reality, “I’m the last child to turn eighteen in our territory, and there will never be another.” This sentence has quite an impact and straightaway got me wondering about how I would feel if I were in her situation.
She explains initially there were lots of protests about President Esther’s law but not people feel it is a waste of time as nothing will change. It made me wonder what makes Emma so different and why is she willing to risk exposure of her family’s secret.
Whilst on her way home she gets partially involved in a protest and we learn that her parents would disapprove of her involvement but she is disappointed in herself for not becoming involved.
During one of her regular announcements President Esther declares that she will not be changing the law now that the last eighteen year old in the territory has graduated. She says she sees no sign that people in Territory L have done anything to improve their situation as they are still earning a low income and or have the higher education that better jobs require. However, it soon becomes clear that there are no such opportunities available. “Things never get better. They only stay the same or get worse.”
It becomes clear that the adults in her territory are too beaten down to revolt. Even the colour of clothing they are allowed to wear is dull and dreary. There is a particularly good description of Emma’s parents which reflects this, “and like my mother, his gray eyes are dim and no life shows in them.”
One thing I didn't like about this book is the name of the territories L, M and U which obviously stand for Lower, Middle and Upper. I felt that they could have been named something a bit more imaginative.
I also found some of the dialogue to be a little stiff and formal and not true to life. For example, when Emma was talking to her parents and said, “I realise Mother can’t make the trip. Please forgive my rudeness.” I think it would have been more natural for Emma to simply say that she knows her mother can’t make the trip and she is sorry for being rude.
Emma and Sam were my two favourite characters in the book and the two I cared about. I found most of Emma’s family forgettable and I wasn’t overly keen on Eric as character.
On the whole I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading the sequel.
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