Mandate: Thirteen – by Joseph J. Dowling

When I read the premise of this book, the first thing that came to mind was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I almost didn’t pick it to read because I thought I’ve read this story before. But then I read some reviews and changed my mind. I’m so glad I did! Let me tell you about this great book!

Similar to The Handmaid’s Tale, the story is set in the near future and the environment is a hot mess (literally). Because of this, birth rates are way down and the government sets up institutions to “farm” babies from fertile young girls. This act isn’t helping as much as they’d hoped, so they enact a mandate that all girls as young as 13 must be checked for fertility.

Enter Hope and her father, Michael. Hope is turning thirteen. Michael is doing everything in his power not to give up his daughter. This is where the action starts! And it is nonstop throughout!

We meet some characters along the way – some helpful, some pure evil. Nearly all of these characters are very well developed. I either loved or loathed most of the characters in the book!

The scenes were very well developed as well. I could feel myself in the environments they traveled. One small issue I had was I always imagined it was the middle of the night, no matter what time the scene was occuring. I was always shocked when I realized that something was happening during the day. That may have been my own issue though. Most of what took place were things I’d only feel safe trying to accomplish in the middle of the night!

Dowling has had several short stories published, but this is his first published novel. I’m impressed with the quality of this book for being a first novel! Notice how many exclamation marks I’m using? That means you really should go read this book as soon as it’s available! I’m giving this book an exuberant four stars out of five. The only reason it isn’t five stars is because I got a little confused and bogged down with the “baby farmers” chasing Michael and Hope. There are so many of them to keep straight, and they all don’t work for the same people. But I felt it was just a tiny chink in the armor of this suspenseful story.

Many thanks to BookSirens and Manta Press for the advance copy in exchange for my honest review.

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