I’ve had my eye on True Born by L. E. Sterling for a while, and when I finally managed to get my hands on it, I admit that I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew what it was about, but that’s not the same thing. Before I go on with the review, I do want it to be known that I did enjoy it. The world is interesting and Lucy Fox is a great character, as are her sister and Nolan Storm. But I didn’t love it the way I wish I did. There were just too many things that irked me. That’s not to say I won’t buy the sequel––I will, because I’m invested enough to want to know more about the world and the characters and it is a good book––but I think I will have to lower my expectations a little.
Welcome to Dominion City.
After the great Plague descended, the world population was decimated…and their genetics damaged beyond repair.
The Lasters wait hopelessly for their genes to self-destruct. The Splicers pay for expensive treatments that might prolong their life. The plague-resistant True Borns are as mysterious as they are feared…
And then there’s Lucy Fox and her identical twin sister, Margot. After endless tests, no one wants to reveal what they are.
When Margot disappears, a desperate Lucy has no choice but to put her faith in the True Borns, led by the charismatic Nolan Storm and the beautiful but deadly Jared Price. As Lucy and the True Borns set out to rescue her sister, they stumble upon a vast conspiracy stretching from Dominion’s street preachers to shady Russian tycoons. But why target the Fox sisters?
As they say in Dominion, it’s in the blood.
Though at times the setting was a little unclear to me, I liked the world created by Sterling. It’s uniquely divided and distinctive. The class system and history is great. I really liked how different elements of society compared (and clashed), and that the Upper Circle (you can guess what they’re about) had more secrets than its polished veneer. There are definitely serpents in that pit, and while it freaked me out, I was glad they didn’t shy away from what they were. Though their connections made some scenes hard to stomach, especially what poor Margot was put through early on.
Going back to the class system, I loved how diverse they were––Lasters, Splicers, and True Borns. It was a very interesting mechanic, even though I’m not really sure how some characters fit into the classification. Storm aside (who’s supposed to be a mystery), there were a couple characters whose skills I wasn’t inherently clear on. Still, it was a diverse system and I really liked learning about it.
I enjoyed Lucy as the main character, and her twin Margot. Both sisters are different and strong in their own right. I felt Lucy was a good lead though I questioned her choices sometimes. Yes she was incredibly stubborn, but I do have to admire her tenacity and her willingness to stand for what she knows. It’s not what I as a person agree with, but it was told in such a way that I understood her choices and could respect them. I also love Storm. He’s awesome, insanely powerful, and someone I could see myself believing in. I definitely want to know more about him. I’m not too hung up on Jared, however. Sure he’s sexy and tough, but I found him to be waaaay too Alpha male and honestly a little creepy. He’s very touchy feely––first impressions make a difference, and I was so not impressed with his––and frighteningly unpredictable. I can understand that as a mechanic, but it became too much, especially given that Lucy is obsessed with him. I think this is the first time I’ve actually hoped for a love triangle in a YA story.
I liked the action scenes though there were some strange jumps I had to read over a couple times. That, and some of the “good guys” seemed a little too homicidal at times. I know what side everyone was on, but (and this is a first for me), I felt that in some instances the violence wasn’t needed. Knocking out guards would have been just as effective and would have made me a little more sympathetic to the main characters (I’m specifically looking at you, Jared). That said, some of the monsters Sterling described and created were creepy and I would love to see more of them.
All in all, I’m glad that I gave it a chance and am going to keep going with the series, but I really hope that certain questions get answered, Jared chills out, and we learn more about the world and the fate of the Fox sisters. Again, it’s not a bad book at all and like all reviews, this is my opinion. I always encourage people to read books by authors they’ve never heard of before, and if there’s even a small part of you that is curious about True Born, I encourage you to read it. Just because I didn’t fall in love with it, doesn’t mean you won’t.