In Chubb’s debut, a dystopian YA novel set in a grim, fortresslike future America, an amnesiac teenage girl finds out that she’s the key to a rebellion.
In 2098, Kaia, a 17-year-old girl, is brought to a grim factory compound, where she goes to work on a rivet line. She’s one of many young people torn from their disadvantaged families at a young age to become slave labor for a distant, ruling elite. The other workers soon realize that Kaia is different—more kindhearted, more concerned and less hardened than they’ve all become. She only cryptically remembers her past in jumbled fragments, but she seems to have grown up in a privileged household. Strangers from outside the camp contact Kaia and inform her that she’s a secret infiltrator—part of a group of rebels preparing a shock-and-awe strike against the fascistic government. Readers only get piecemeal information about how the present-day United States became a one-party dictatorship and a rogue police state in just 50 years—Chubb wisely doesn’t get bogged down in details—and partisans can blame the Democrats or the GOP as they see fit. However, readers may not find the late-21st-century setting terribly compelling; its technology (laser guns, punishing neural implants, a hoverboardlike item right out of the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II) won’t surprise those familiar with the I-Was-a-Teenage-Orwellian sci-fi subgenre. That said, the prose and characterizations are solid throughout, and the author doesn’t condescend to younger readers. A great last-act twist adds poignancy to the heroine’s blossoming, impossible love affair with a fellow dissident. The finale supplies readers with the proper jolt as they await the next installment of this planned series.
Little Daughter challenges Big Brother in a tale with a familiar premise but an appealing Twilight Zone-style twist.