The Boy I Am by KL Kettle, published by Stripes Publishing

A lot of the books that I read within YA fiction are set in worlds with entirely different structures to our own, with strange and distant ideas and cultures that allow for a sense of escapism with the themes and characters being more relatable.

The Boy I Am is so unique to me as it is set in a world that is of such a contrast to day-to-day life that one would expect it have the fantastical tone but in reading it, it never truly feels like that. This is due to the fact that the society the plot is built around is one that reflects our own on a much deeper and unsettling level than anything I have read so far.

By setting it in an extreme matriarchal system I would have expected it to seem far more unusual than it did, but through the descriptions of the oppression of the men in this case, KL Kettle manages to perfectly reflect many of the ways women are treated today in a world that favours men.

Instead of writing a book simply about this, there’s something more impactful about switching the roles. Taking these ideas out of something we almost see to be normal when it is done to women and placing the very same things on men is more shocking in every way.

This choice grabs a reader’s attention and forces them to re-examine the way they see things once the book is done, making it easier to see the problems that remain in our world by allowing it to appear at first glance foreign and new.

In the book, all positions of power in the world are filled by women and the most powerful and wealthy of these women can bid on their choice from a group of young men and for seventeen-year-old Jude Grant it is vital he is chosen by one in particular.

A year prior his best friend Viktor had been bought by the most powerful woman of all, The Chancellor, and subsequently killed for his desire to bring down this system and attempting to run from her. It’s because of the memory of Vik and the hope for a better life for himself and those in the future that Jude has spent a year learning about the Chancellor, so as to be chosen by her and get close enough to kill her and end the reign.

Unfortunately this plan is foreseen by The Chancellor so Jude finds himself having to be smarter, more careful and more patient at every moment.

I think what truly makes this book as thrilling as it is is just how unsafe the main character ist. It is exciting to read about the kind of character who would put their life at such grave risk for a cause they know is important and Jude Grant makes a perfect example of this.

Naturally he wants things to be better and needs them to, he is not driven only by the common good – a large part of why he puts himself at such great risk is Viktor. The loss of this person he relied on, went to for comfort and joy and hope, makes him human, makes it understandable how much he wants to avenge him, to bring the Chancellor down. Because of all this, The Boy I Am is the sort of book that’s impossible to forget.