Originally published: 7 January 2021
Author: K L Kettle
Published by: Little Tiger
Genre: Young Adult
Length: 384 pages
Reading dates: 26 December 2020-3 January 2021
They say we’re dangerous. But we’re not that different.
Jude is running out of time. Once a year, lucky young men in the House of Boys are auctioned to the female elite. But if Jude fails to be selected before he turns seventeen, a future deep underground in the mines awaits.
Yet ever since the death of his best friend at the hands of the all-powerful Chancellor, Jude has been desperate to escape the path set out for him. Finding himself entangled in a plot to assassinate the Chancellor, he finally has a chance to avenge his friend and win his freedom. But at what price?
The Boy I Am is a speculative YA thriller and is a clever look at what happens when gender roles are switched. In The Boy I Am, Jude is about to turn 17 and belongs to The House of Boys, a group of teenagers who are schooled in the skills it takes to be selected at auction by the masked female elite who live in the House of Life. The appearance of the boys is a vital part of their success and they have various performances they have to perform in including a swimwear talent show! As the book starts, Jude is looking for revenge after his best friend was murdered by The Chancellor. Jude hopes that she will bid for him, so he can be alone with her in the hope he can kill her, even though he knows it will be a suicide mission.
I really liked the cleverness of this and the role reversal between genders, which mirrors the challenges faced by women and girls every day in our society. Jude experiences being belittled by members of the elite in the appointments he has to host. He is sexually abused by a member of the police who are known as Lice. The boys essentially live in captivity, hoping to be picked by a woman knowing that if they fail, they will be sent to a life of misery and hard labour in the mines.
I think readers who enjoyed The Hunger Games and the Divergent series would like this and it reminded me a little of Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours. Kettle is a very good writer – the pacing is good and the writing feels accomplished, especially as it’s a debut novel. With themes of corruption and friendship, it was a real page turner and an exciting read.
Thank you to Charlie at Little Tiger for the finished copy.
About the author
Made in Birmingham, Kathryn now lives, works and writes in London. The opening of her debut YA novel, The Boy I am, was shortlisted for the Society of Childrens’ Book Writers and Illustrator (SCBWI British Isles) Undiscovered Voices 2018. She has won competitions and been highly commended for her flash fiction, including being longlisted as part of the 2017 Bath Flash Fiction Award.
When not writing Kathryn can be found traveling and working around the world transforming business with technology. She is passionate about promoting the role of women as leaders, the value of creativity, and need for diversity at all levels in STEM and business based careers.