Title: The Day We Die
Author: Autumn Bluestone (Branded, #1)
Publication date: August 26th 2021
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
Comment: I was given a free ecopy by the author and Giselle of Xpresso book tours in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced by the Masters.
Trigger Warning: Suicidal Ideation. Violent content.
It’s the year 2070, and everything in Tessa’s life has gone wrong. She didn’t expect to be Branded—a process created to preserve her country’s precious resources—with the terrifyingly young age of sixteen, or for tragedy to befall all her childhood friends. She didn’t expect to be left this alone. Four years after everything crumbled apart, Tessa is sixteen, preparing to board the Bus that gathers the expired before mysteriously disposing of them; and searching desperately for anything that could make her life worth living. Then she meets someone she never expected to see, and Tessa knows within seconds that they will forever be linked by their pasts. Struggling to cope with her low brand, survive the endless flow of mental and physical attacks pounding her and the other expirees, and find purpose amid the storm of pain that is her life, Tessa would be falling apart if it weren’t for the boy that just keeps piecing her back together. She’s closer to death than ever before. Will Tessa survive, or will the attacks by the government—and her own mind—ultimately destroy her?
In order to preserve precious resources, each person is branded with their ‘end-date’ when they reach 12 years old. This date is based on genetics, perceived future and how valuable they will be to the world.
Tessa is only allowed to live until the age 16- practically unheard of for anyone.
Shortly after her branding ceremony, a strange illness sweeps through her generation leaving her the only survivor of her year. Cast adrift as unlucky and a burden, Tessa is isolated and alone and is almost looking forward to her death. Looking forward to being taken away on the high-tech bus to meet her demise.
But on her sixteenth birthday, when she gets on the bus, she meets someone who shouldn’t exist. Suddenly death doesn’t look as appealing.
Tess is forced to re-evaluate her life and the lies of her country as fellow passengers are killed off in terrible attacks. Soon she has no idea who to trust, what is real and who she is as she heads towards her death.
As a fan of post-apocalyptic novels, I was very intrigued by the premise of this book. Being branded with your own “end-date” to maintain a balance of resources isn’t something I have read about before. The ramifications of this kind of society are so fascinating.
No one, other than Tessa, seemed to have any problem with this mode of expiration. In fact, most were happy to be helping towards the good of all humanity. It was weird to read about people heading to their own deaths quite peacefully in order to help others. It was more than a little surreal and even a bit unbelievable.
I think maybe watching and seeing how many people have reacted during the pandemic made this hard to swallow. After all, people refuse to wear masks to benefit others, it’s hard to imagine them willingly submitting to their own demise for the greater good.
That aside, the world-building was excellent. You really managed to get a feel of the menace of the Masters and their cruelty and lack of empathy.
You could really feel how the characters felt because the descriptions were so powerful. Each time they stopped at an outpost or were injured, you were swept away with the story and I found pages flew by as I was reading.
Hunter was probably my favourite character as he seemed to be a genuinely nice guy and all he wanted to do was help. He’d had quite a horrific upbringing and yet still managed to keep his temper and remain positive and I appreciated that. Katrina seemed to come from nowhere and made herself known only as the forthright side character. It would have been nice to have more time to get to know her but that might happen in future books.
I think my main gripe was with the main character, Tessa, who I found annoying. Admittedly, she had a terrible life and felt ostracised and unwanted everywhere she went which gave her very low self-esteem. I thought the author did a great job of conveying that. But her every other thought was how much she owed Hunter and how she had to live for him and it got old very fast.
If I took a shot every time she thought “I owe him,” or something similar, I would’ve died of alcohol poisoning halfway through the book.
The other thing that bothered me was what I call the “No breaks” plot. Tessa was a bad-luck omen! She had a very young death date, then everyone around her dies. Everyone blames and ignores her. Once she’s finally made up her mind to live she can’t escape from the Masters. Then she gets attacked at each outpost, then gets sick and then attacked again. Oh my goodness give the kid a break! She had next to no positive experiences and every situation just made her worse.
Reading about a character that only experiences disaster in their life is hugely depressing. It doesn’t quite hit levels of “misery porn” but I did find my patience and tolerance for her wavering a bit. I hope in the next books Tessa actually has something good happen to her and isn’t just a vehicle for torture and victimhood.
I think the action and the world-building were definitely the strong parts of the book. This is the first in a series so it did suffer a little because we needed a set-up for future books.
It reminded me of Christina Dalcher’s end of world novels or Neal Schusterman’s dystopian “Unwind” series.
I’m definitely interested in reading the next in the series and learning more about this fascinating world.
Autumn Bluestone was born in Toronto and raised in the rural community of Erin, Ontario Canada. The daughter of an English teacher, Autumn was an avid reader and lover of stories at a young age. She first took an interest in writing when she was ten years old and has nurtured this passion into her debut novel, The Day We Die. You can find her surrounded by books in her little stone farmhouse, writing with a mug of hot chocolate in hand, or wandering outside with her rambunctious dog and much-loved chickens and ducks.