Review: Contributor (Contributor #1) by Nicole Ciacchella

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Title: Contributor
Author:  Nicole Ciacchella
Publisher/Year:  Sweenix Rising Books 1/2/14
Length: 233 Pages
Series: Contributor #1

Overview

Book 1 of the young adult/new adult post-apocalyptic and dystopian Contributor trilogy.

When the Great Famine threatened the existence of mankind, the Creators saved humanity. Humanity has been their loyal subject ever since.

This history has been ingrained in seventeen-year-old Dara Morrow since her first day of Creator-sponsored school. Grateful for the life-giving necessities her Creator provides, Dara is thrilled to be one of three students chosen for an elite, year-long apprenticeship program. Now is her chance to prove herself a devoted Contributor.

But Dara’s competition is ruthless and will stop at nothing to win the competition. Worse yet, her exacting master has little patience for her.

Then Dara’s mother is seriously injured, and Dara realizes the price of being a Contributor: once you’ve outlived your usefulness, you’re discarded. Can Dara learn to manipulate the system to save not only herself, but everyone she loves?

My Thoughts

I had this in my list to read on NetGalley for a few weeks, and I don’t know what took me so long to read it.  I’ve been in the market for a new Dystopian series, and this one was just what i needed.  I should say though that i was a bit nervous when i started it since the first seen was very reminiscent of the Matched Series – in the sense that we meet our female lead Dara just as she’s taking an evaluation that will determine what her job and role in life will be.

Anyhow, this story begins the journey for us with Dara who’s just finishing school and will be assigned to her role as a Contributor in society.  To back up a second, what we do know about what’s going on is limited, but this is it:  The environment outside in the world is unstable and dangerous so domes have been built to house humanity.  within the domes is a caste system of Ballasts and Cores, with the Ballasts being Contributors – those who are able to provide some value in society that’s needed.  Jobs that are technological, medical, or of those higher levels.  Cores or the service folks, blue collar workers if you need a comparison.  Dara is the top of her class and finds herself excelling in her evaluation and landing an apprenticeship for the head of Engineering, which is a blessing and something horrible all rolled together.  She’s assigned to Letizia who is a top engineer to be lead through her apprenticeship which turns out to be a competition of sorts between Dara and 2 other classmates to be the Head’s assistant.  Of course, we know that this means that they will do whatever is necessary to show that they are the best and are most deserving of the assistant role.

Along with meeting Dara, we meet her boyfriend Jonathan who is also at the top of his class, but in Logistics.  So they are a great match since they are both very skilled and don’t have to compete with one another.  Jon has a great heart and will do just about anything for Dara.

Where this story takes us in on a journey of growth and learning about the things that you’re never taught in school.  of course, it’s expected that there are things that Dara has been sheltered from – the understanding of what’s really going on and what the ‘government of sorts’…the Job Creators want everyone to know – so that they fall in line.

Through a series of unfortunate events, Dara begins to see that there’s more than what she knows.  She and Letizia are on a transport coming back from another dome and they crash.  this is the first thing that opens her eyes as she’s forced to see what’s going on outside the domes and she meets some friends of Letizia’s who are able to help her in that experience.

Dara also has to deal with the serious injury to her mother, she’s forced to choose between work and family at first in order to continue on in her studies, and then once that’s decided, she and her father are forced into a stressful situation in the care for her mom.

Where this story leaves us off is a turning point, we see successes for some of the cast, but we also see that things are changing and it’ll be interesting to see what those will be, who will be important, and what it means for survival.  Dara has decided to stand up against what she’s learned so far, and is taking on a role of leadership in a sense – she’s willing to compromise all that she knows that keeps her safe in order to make a change.  Who’s going to be harmed in the path we don’t know yet, but we can hope that her family and friends will be safe.  I wonder what role Jon will play in this as well.

I’m also curious if the Roots will come in handy.  In addition to the Ballasts and Cores that we talked about, there are the Roots that are the folks that have been cast out of the domes that are living outside in the elements.  A few folks that we’ve read about have been referenced to be out there, so i’m curious if we’ll come across them again.

The one thing that really frustrates me though is that we don’t get the back story on what happened to force everyone into domes.  we know that the environment and atmosphere outside isn’t stable enough for sustainable living.  But we don’t know what happened to make it like that.  we know that there were books talking out it that the free thinkers have, but again we don’t know what those books say.  Even if it’s not a huge importance, i’m curious.  It also put context to things that i enjoy.  In any event, i can’t wait to see where the story continues.

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