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By Erin Bowman
HarperTeen, 2013
Audience: Older Teens

Source: Edelweiss/NetGalley

From Goodreads:
There are no men in Claysoot. There are boys—but every one of them vanishes at midnight on his eighteenth birthday. The ground shakes, the wind howls, a blinding light descends…and he’s gone.

They call it the Heist.

Gray Weathersby’s eighteenth birthday is mere months away, and he’s prepared to meet his fate–until he finds a strange note from his mother and starts to question everything he’s been raised to accept: the Council leaders and their obvious secrets. The Heist itself. And what lies beyond the Wall that surrounds Claysoot–a structure that no one can cross and survive.

Climbing the Wall is suicide, but what comes after the Heist could be worse. Should he sit back and wait to be taken–or risk everything on the hope of the other side?

So. I have some serious thoughts about this one.

The thing is, it's a good idea for a book. It really is. Where do guys go after the Heist? Why only men? What's the world like beyond Claysoot? Very intriguing and complicated. Don't get me wrong, I liked it, but it definitely made me think.

One problem I had was that the teens acted like adults. They may have to grow up more quickly there, but it bothered me a bit. If they're acting like adults, should this book be in the adult section or the teen section?

What bothered me a lot was that the teens had sex with multiple partners throughout their lives in order to procreate, otherwise they would obviously die out - and disease was never mentioned. Ever. Nothing about protection or disease was mentioned once they were out of Claysoot, either. The differences between Claysoot and the outside world were addressed in so many other areas - why not this one?

In Claysoot, sex was such a casual thing for many citizens. People who weren't interested in one specific person were assigned "slatings" with others, and... can you imagine being assigned someone to sleep with? I would be one of the people NOT ok with that. Like Emma, I would be fighting people off (a nice way of saying kneeing guys who don't understand in the crotch.)

In this world, do STDs no longer exist? How do you know for sure who the father is? Can you always count on doing the math? Does it even matter who the father is to them? What about gay people? How were they treated? Do they not exist in this society, like STDs? Sex was so casually mentioned and none of the details were addressed. I think in this case that details are important, especially for a teen audience.

That's how I will remember this book, and I don't think that's how the author wanted the book to be remembered. The plot was so complex and interesting, and the setup for book two sounds great. I just don't know if I am up for it. It's well-written and obviously good for discussion.

If you like dystopian books and sociology, you'll find this one interesting.

Let me know what you think about sexuality in this book. Do you agree with me? Am I crazy and just imagining it? Read it and let's discuss!


  1. I just finished this book last night! The sex thing bothered me too, although probably not as much as you. There was the fact that Gray didn't want to have a baby so he didn't want to have sex. That is it. Nothing else is mentioned about how to avoid getting pregnant or STDs or anything. I kind of understand in Claysoot why it may not have been mentioned, since the original people there were just kids (although if they were teens they probably would have known about these kind of things to a degree.) You are right about the father thing too, if everyone is sleeping with who they are slated with, which I think it mentioned they are like a month, how do they know for sure who the father is? You are right to ask that question. Cause from their underdeveloped society I'm thinking they don't have pregnancy tests so it may take two months (or more who knows) for them to notice.

    I don't know if any of my rambling made sense but there is my take on the sex thing in this novel. I didn't focus on it too much when reading but it did pop into my head.


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