Reviewed by: Beth
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
In Metaltown war—and the factories that feed it—is a constant. So is disease, starvation, and brutal rule by a cadre of “officials” who are all in the back pocket of the wealthiest family in the area. This world is all Ty knows—an orphanage when she was little, then being booted out into the streets at the age of eight to either survive…or not. Colin grew up in Bakersfield, the next town over in the Tri-Cities area. Until his mom got sick and they couldn’t afford to live there anymore. When his family ended up in Metaltown, Ty took him under her wing, and they’ve been best friends ever since. But when Ty ends up losing an eye in a factory accident, then is unwittingly fired by Lena—the owner’s daughter who is trapped in her own gilded cage—Colin decides that he’s had enough. When he decides that the group needs to form their own union, against the mob boss who runs the current one, Metaltown will never be the same. The only question is: Who will he take down with him, and who will be left when it’s over?
Metaltown was actually part of a monthly subscription box I get, so it wasn’t something that I specifically requested. However, I read it in two days and really enjoyed it. It’s definitely YA, but it deals with some pretty adult themes. War and how people profit from it, the environmental damage that can ensue, the dangers of bio-foods, unions…and yet, this all works within the context of the story without seeming strangely overdone or preachy.
The characters are very well written. Colin, Ty, and Lena each have their strengths and weaknesses and their own motivations for the actions that they take during the course of the book, which may or may not be what readers expect. They are human, and they have their own uniquely human motivations for the choices that they make. Many of their choices are hard ones, but created due to their surroundings—a bleak, harsh place for all but the wealthiest. Death is not a stranger here, nor is it limited to only the old. Children are working in factories from the youngest of ages, with no protections and nothing to fall back on if they get hurt.
The setting seemed to be a version of any city you could find anywhere, but one wracked by environmental devastation and the cruelty of continuous war fed for profit. It honestly seems a timely story in many ways, with little in Metaltown that could be considered completely unthinkable in the coming years, except by the most naïve. Dirty and dark were the operative words for this place.
Sexual Content: None