On Recruitment Day, Lucian “Luck” Sparks is forced to become a pawn in the Trials–a set of tests forced upon 5 Recruits by the totalitarian Establishment. The penalty for losing a trial–the choice of having someone close to you killed. For Lucky, that means his younger brother Cole is at risk and he’ll do anything to keep him safe–he’ll be ruthless, brave, and ultimately, deny himself the love staring him in the face the whole time. With it’s Battle Royale storyline, The Culling is not a story for the faint of heart. It will tug at each and every one of your heartstrings along the way while simultaneously taunting you to close the book when the going gets tough. Steven dos Santos’ world is cruel, dark, and dangeous.
When I first stumbled upon The Culling on Goodreads, my first reaction was this: “FINALLY!!!!” There is a lot of room in the dystopian landscape for LGBT characters and yet it is a vastly unexplored possibility. What I liked most about the LGBT aspect of this book was the fact that the main character’s sexuality was really a non-issue. It is what it is. No one harasses him because of it–it’s just an accepted fact. It’s not the reason that he’s chosen for the Trials. It’s not used against him during them. It just is. He stands solidly in the center of an all male semi-love triangle and that part makes this refreshing. While the story itself isn’t new (although perhaps a bit darker), the inclusion of an LGBT main character felt flawless. The author didn’t try to make it more than it was and I appreciated that.