Tankborn (review)
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Reviewed by
Sandler, Karen. Tankborn. Tu/Lee & Low, 2011. [384p]. ISBN 978-1-60060-662-5 $17.95 Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 7–10.

As a GEN, or genetically engineered non-human, Kayla has always faced isolation, but she has also always questioned the assumption that she’s inferior just because she was grown in a tank rather than being directly descended from the humans who came from Earth hundreds of years before. An unexpected assignment lands her in dangerous and wondrous territory as she is exposed to potential love, active (though still early stage) rebellion, and other folks who also believe that using GENs as slaves and controlling them through a fabricated religion is unethical. The descriptions of the way GENs were initially created, using a mix of human, animal, [End Page 105] and artificial elements are compelling, if scientifically rather sketchy. Unfortunately, Kayla is rather flat as a protagonist, with the author relying overmuch on a few key characteristics (like her clumsiness or her extreme stubbornness) in too many situations to move the plot forward. In addition, there is little to distinguish this planet from Earth—the potential for newness is lost under what reads mostly as an Indian caste system set in an artificial location. Nevertheless, Kayla is undeniably intriguing, and the flaws are less memorable than the subtle optimism that she, unlikely enough, clings to, and the same quiet hopefulness that runs throughout this novel.

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