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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: Toxic Treacle by Echo Freer

Imagine living in a society where the males were separated from the females, and each one had their own specific role in society to follow. One "breeds", the other "nurtures". Sounds ideal and orderly, but a society like this isn't what it all looked like.

Echo Freer's novel takes us into a society where "love conquers everything" and "respect breeds respect" isn't enough.

Title: Toxic Treacle: No. 1 by Echo Freer
Pages: 207
Release Date: March 22nd 2012
Published by: Golden Guides Press Ltd
Source: Publisher (thanks Midas PR!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository

Summary:

This is a world without parents. There are nurturers – women who bear and raise children, and breeders – men whose only obligation is to produce three offspring and then leave. No responsibilities, no involvement, no contact. This is a world devoid of paternal relationships, of parental homes, of families.

Micky “Monkey” Gibbon is counting down the days until graduation – until he can leave high school, start playing professional football, breed with his high-school crush, Angel, and enjoy living the life of a breeder. He can’t understand why his best mate, Tragic, is so sceptical. Who wouldn’t want to escape the oppressive rules of the TREACLE regime (Training and Resources for Educating Adolescent Children in a Loving Environment), where there’s unrest on the streets and frequent disappearances? Life couldn’t get better. Until Tragic disappears…

A mysterious clue left in Tragic’s abandoned house opens a whole plethora of questions. Enlisting the help of Angel, Micky embarks on a desperate quest to find his friend, but each step closer to Tragic is a step away from the safety of the world he thought he knew.

Angel and Micky want to uncover the truth, and in the process determine the paths their own lives will take…but rebellion comes at a high price. Angel and Monkey must choose between what is accepted, and what they think is right. Complicated by forbidden love and intertwined with fear, Toxic Treacle is a provocative consideration of what family, masculinity, and fatherhood really mean today

Believe it or not, a world without parents is a world in chaos. Echo Freer shows us in this book just how much society can break down without a functioning family to guide and teach children how to become good, upstanding citizens of the world. Hoods rule the streets at night, brotherhoods composed of 15 year old kids, even younger, who fight and kill each other. This is the world Monkey has been born into. In a matter of weeks he's going to be a "breeder" when he turns 16, copulate with a "nurturer" who he hopes will be his crush Angel and live his life as an adult, playing football and partying whenever he wants to. But Monkey's bestfriend Tragic thinks the government isn't telling them the whole story about being breeders and nurturers. One night Tragic disappeared and in Monkey's search for his bestfriend, he starts discovering things that might just change his outlook of the world.

Michael (Monkey is his street name) has been brought up to believe whatever T.R.E.A.C.L.E. has told him ever since he was little. He doesn't even know what love is, or how to kiss, or to even have a father figure in his life. All he knows is he needs to procreate, and he can't wait for it. But one glimpse of Tragic's life shatters all his future plans. So what if he ran away from the government? At least he has a loving mother and a doting father. Maybe it was important to know who your father was instead of just having one parent raise you. A dad who can guide you through the years on how to be a man, heck, to even pee properly instead of going out every night killing each other because you have no clue how to behave like a guy. In an instant, Monkey becomes an advocate of P.A.R.E.N.T. to bring back the basic unit of society instead of being the nasty, pre-teen, bad tempered kid that he was. Monkey's not a perfect character, but through his experiences we get to know what society is like. Stubborn, but definitely determined to make a change and make amends for the wrongs he had done, Monkey's character transformation definitely endeared him to me.

It's interesting how Echo Freer wrote the book through a male point of view, yet Angel's character is just as important as Monkey is. She's one of the biggest motivations why Monkey was looking forward to 'graduating', to being a breeder because he's looking forward to being with her. But everything Monkey felt and believed suddenly went on a deeper level when Angel became involved. She, who is just as ignorant as Monkey of a family, of love, and yet her curiosity, her desire to know that something is beyond the robotic way of life they are living fueled a series of event that led to the change everyone secretly desired. It was her who made Monkey the 'accidental hero'. I loved how she had her own beliefs and things to fight for. In a society where women received the full responsibility of raising a child single handedly, it's no wonder Angel has a good head on her shoulders. She has to be independent, learn how to make it on her own.

Toxic Treacle tackled a lot of relevant themes and topics we should read about. Segregation, the blatant dictating of what roles one can perform can create far more problems than it can solve. Humans needed affection and love, it's a fact. Survival might be important, but you can never factor out a person's feelings. We are not things that can only breed and not feel anything about the life we bring into this world. Children needs guidance while growing up, to show them what's right and wrong, to have someone to look up to, to respect, to love and the Hood and Monkey's experiences as part of it shows how the lack of a family can shape and mold a person's character and what one can become in the future in all the wrong ways. 

Echo Freer did a great job presenting a society divided by gender and defined solely by the roles they play in it. How will a society function properly if the most basic part of it isn't even existing? Find out through Monkey and Angel's experiences as they try to discover what it's like to be free of a government hell bent on controlling its citizens and getting rid of all the things that makes us what we are, humans.

Over-all, Toxic Treacle is a book I would recommend to everyone. A short, provocative look in a society where love is just a word used to entice people and false truths dictates the lives of its people. Monkey and Angel are great characters and the fast paced action all throughout the book will make you feel a variety of emotions in each of the 200 pages this book has. You will want more of everything! Good writing, amazing pace and a very, very interesting story, give Toxic Treacle a try!

Content (plot, story flow, character):

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
Makes it look like an MG book, but it's really not!

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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