Sunday, September 11, 2011

Book in Review: HELPER12 by Jack Blaine





Helper12 works as a Baby Helper in Pre Ward, the place where babies spend their first six months of life before they’re tracked for vocations and sent to training. She does her job well, and she stays out of trouble. But one day, the Sloanes, Society members who enjoy all the privileges of their station—family unit clearance, a private dwelling, access to good food and good schools—come to “adopt” one of the Pre Ward babies. The Director makes a deal and the Sloanes walk out with a brand new child.

They also walk out owning Helper12—the Director sells her to them, and there’s nothing she can do but go. At the Sloanes, Helper12 enters a world where people should be able to enjoy life—with high position and riches come the opportunity for individual freedom, even the chance to love—but that’s not what she finds. The Sloanes are keeping secrets. So is their biological son, Thomas.

Helper12 has some secrets of her own; she’s drawing, which is a violation, since Baby Helpers aren’t tracked for Art. And she’s growing to love the child she was bought to care for—at the same time that Ms. Sloane is becoming disenchanted with her impulse baby buy.

When all your choices are made for you, how do you make some for yourself? Helper12 is about to find out.

Why I read this:

I don't ever read self-published books for One A Day Y.A. I do have another book blog that focuses on these types of books. But Jack Blaine emailed me asking if I'd review it on this site. I liked the summary and decided to give it a try. Because it's dystopian (a huge trend in YA) and young adult I felt readers of this blog would be interested in hearing what I have to say about it.


Jack Blaine paints a picture of a very unjust world in the near future, where people are either tracked to certain jobs when they are toddlers or belong to society where they have the freedom of leisure, of love, family, and more. The tracked are given names such as Helper12, Helper29, Driver, etc., are required to wear short haircuts no longer than a few inches, live in single bed rooms, not allowed to have families, only taught enough information to learn their job tasks, and are tattoed with their job track symbol on their forearms.

I enjoyed this story. I thought it was very similar to something like The Handmaid's Tale, Brave New World, or 1984 in terms of the way society has control over what people are and aren't allowed to do. It was a nice touch that Helper12 was a baby helper and had a soft spot for all the children that came through her doors. She kind of actually likes her job. It's just the rest of the way society works that has her thinking, this isn't right.

Thomas, the son of the couple that buys Helper12 and one of the babies, is a much more complex character than I expected him to be at first. In that way I felt his love for his new brother and his friendship, turned love, for Helper12 to be charming and sweet. Thomas deals with a lot of pain throughout the story and Helper12 has to deal with a lot of confusion and change. When I read young adult books, these are the sorts of things I like to see. Character growth is something that happens to all of us when we are teens and to make a book for teens I feel this is a very important thing to include.

I did wish the story had much more detailed descriptions of the way the society works. Perhaps Helper12 could have gone to more places around the city or reflect more on the past in order to make that interesting. I have always been very fascinated by cultures and for myself to read a book that has a *new* society in it, I really need to dive deeper and get to know it thoroughly to be completely satisfied. I also enjoy having elements of mystery or action in the story, just a touch, to give it some extra punch. There was a bit of mystery but I felt like it didn't go quite far enough there either.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to readers who enjoy dystopian stories. Perhaps it could make a good introduction or follow-up to readers of heavier dystopians like those mentioned above. The writing was very light and fast paced. I almost couldn't put it down and found myself staying up way later than I should have. It was definitely a "just one more chapter" kind of book.

My Rating:


Review copy free from author in exchange for my honest opinion.

Related Posts:

Friday Teasers: Book Beginnings, Teaser Tuesdays and The Friday 56

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