BROKEN BRANCHES By Ben Ellis, p/b £8.75, Kindle £2.99
Reviewed by HT Scott
Grace and her twin brother Charlie are orphans. This makes them broken branches, that is to say, that their lineage can’t be traced. Anyone who can’t trace their family tree and prove their worthiness is considered second class, a branch of a tree that is broken. But that’s not all, men are sterile and in order to have a baby you have to apply for permission and take fertility drugs. Grace and her husband Tom are hoping to get that permission despite her lack of history because Tom is thoroughbred and can trace his family back for several generations.
There’s one problem though, The Gardeners, a vigilante group of thoroughbreds led by Shears. They don’t want broken branches breeding with Thoroughbreds and will do all they can to prevent it. Shears and his gang have already publicly castrated a man to prove their point. When The Gardeners find out that Grace and Tom are having a child they make it their mission to try to terminate the pregnancy.
However, things are only going to get worse when Grace’s brother Charlie unknowingly gets Anna, his thoroughbred one night stand, pregnant. It shouldn’t be possible but his ex-girlfriend had secretly given him fertility pills in the hope of getting pregnant herself.
Now both Grace and Charlie are about to become parents and what’s even more unusual is that the babies seem to be able to connect with each other cerebrally. This has piqued the interest of the government and they step in under the guise of protection from the pursuing Gardeners.
Now Grace, Tom, Charlie and, Anna are left with no option but to trust the authorities and go into hiding. Grace and Charlie try to track down who their own parents were before Shears and his men find them and terminate the pregnancies. Hoping that by tracing their history they can create a new one for their unborn children.
Ben Ellis has written a dystopian story about a society that values breeding and DNA above all else. Worryingly, this could be true in some form in the future. He has taken a very touchy subject and written a thought-provoking story. What I liked about this book was the way that Ellis created his storyline, it is fluent and flows with great ease throughout, it’s not difficult to follow. There are characters to root for and some to hate. Inbetween all the chapters are mini-chapters that are written by an unknown entity and correlate with the story but you don’t really grasp that until the end. There is also an explanation by Ben Ellis at the end to explain his thought process behind some of the aspects of the book, which I thought was a nice touch.