Donor 23, Cate Campbell Beatty’s engaging and harrowing debut novel, is a new and wonderful dystopian story geared toward adolescents. The narrative follows Joan Lion, a 17-year-old living in a walled city governed by a group called “The Alliance.” Joan lives in a future where The Alliance has subjugated a segment of society, calling them “donors” and using them to make the upper class, the “citizens,” into better athletes. Joan is a donor, giving bits of muscle tissue and blood to Tegan, the daughter of the governor. Other donors in the society have been known to give their eyes, or even vital organs. Joan almost has enough money to purchase citizenship for herself and her father, when the governor decides his daughter must have Joan’s heart, as it beats more efficiently than Tegan’s.
With the fatal surgery upon her, Joan’s trainer helps her with rock climbing, kickboxing, and other exercises that would assist her in escaping. Pursued by a malicious tax enforcement officer, Nox, Joan struggles to survive and heal from her years of surgeries and government indoctrination.
Once I started reading Donor 23, I couldn’t put it down. I love dystopian fiction, such as Allie Condie’s Matched trilogy and Lauren Oliver’s Delirium trilogy. Donor 23 was very similar to those books, along with a hint of Hunger Games. However, Donor 23 offered so much more. Joan, while mirroring Katniss Everdeen, was more her own person. And the love triangle between Duncan, Reck and Joan was created as more of an afterthought than the driving motivation of the story. Joan was intelligent, athletic, independent and determined. She was absolutely a heroine I could cheer for all the way.
I was glad that Beatty chose to include vignettes of what was happening outside of Joan’s story. She offered a glimpse of how life went on within the city with Joan’s friends, as well as the governor’s machinations after Joan leaves. Not only were the other characters just as memorable, the varying story arcs offered a break from Joan’s journey, which sometimes lagged.
Beatty left room for a possible second book with only a hint of a cliffhanger ending. For those who enjoy stories about what society could be in the future, Donor 23 is the perfect book.
|Page Count||378 pages|
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