3.81 (1,269 ratings by Goodreads)
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Recruitment Day is here...if you fail, a loved one will die For Lucian "Lucky" Spark, Recruitment Day means the Establishment, a totalitarian government, will force him to become one of five Recruits competing to join the ruthless Imposer task force. Each Recruit participates in increasingly difficult and violent military training for a chance to advance to the next level. Those who fail must choose an "Incentive"--a family member--to be brutally killed. If Lucky fails, he'll have to choose death for his only living relative: Cole, his four-year-old brother. Lucky will do everything he can to keep his brother alive, even if it means sacrificing the lives of other Recruits' loved ones. What Lucky isn't prepared for is his undeniable attraction to the handsome, rebellious Digory Tycho. While Lucky and Digory train together, their relationship grows. But daring to care for another Recruit in a world where love is used as the ultimate weapon is extremely dangerous. As Lucky soon learns, the consequences can be deadly...
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 132 x 203 x 25.4mm | 408.23g
  • Flux
  • United States
  • English
  • 073873537X
  • 9780738735375
  • 359,347

Review quote

A heart-pounding page turner. --VOYA
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About Steven dos Santos

Steven dos Santos (Miami, FL) spent most of his working career in the legal field, even going to law school for a couple of years before realizing that if he was going to be telling "creative truths," he'd prefer to be writing novels.
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Rating details

1,269 ratings
3.81 out of 5 stars
5 35% (444)
4 31% (388)
3 20% (254)
2 9% (118)
1 5% (65)

Our customer reviews

Wow! This novel packs a punch plotwise! The characters of all five recruits are so well developed...and the plot takes what we know about the characters and creates amazing suspense and excitement. The story is a rollercoaster of action.all the while examining who we love and why we love them. This is a must read!show more
by joyce sweeney
There are so many things to love about Steven Dos Santos' book one in the Torch Keeper Series, The Culling. It has all of the fast paced, tension packed, page-turning feel of the post-apocalyptic genre, but with the close to character feel of a truly satisfying read. The Culling asks big unthinkable questions. Should you have to choose between the people you love? And if you had to, who would you choose? The hero of the book, Lucian Sparks does everything he can to protect his little brother, Cole, from the brutality of the Establishment's recruitment practice where five citizens are chosen to undergo violent and extreme trials in order to save their 'incentives,' two loved ones that are held hostage and sacrificed one at a time until just one recruit is left standing. Steven doesn't pull punches with either the trials or the decisions. He makes us love each character and then watch as they are forced into grotesque competitions and imposssible choices. The Culling is dark, but not without light. The underlying theme is that love survives everything. the Establishment may be able to force the recruits to compete to the death (of their loved ones), but they can't take away their humanity. This makes the Culling a must more
by stacie ramey
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Flux Books, and Netgalley.) 16-year-old Lucian or 'Lucky' lives with his 4-year-old brother Cole. His parents are both dead, and the only other friendly face is that of his elderly neighbour (elderly being age 40!), who is dying from a sort of lung infection. Lucian's society is ruled by a group known as 'The Establishment', and every so often they have a 'recruitment', where 5 kids are picked to go into 'special training'. This special training involves the five kids going through 5 trials, at the end of each trial, whoever comes last must pick one of their 2 'incentives' to die. These 'incentives' are the two people closest to the recruit - parents, siblings, children etc. Lucky finds himself a recruit, along with one of his friends - Digory. Who will be the only victor of the trials? Who will die first? And can Lucian save his brother? Quite simply, this is a grislier version of 'The Hunger Games' (yes, apparently that's possible), and also reminds me a bit of the film 'The Cube' with the things that happen during the tasks. It also has a much rawer feeling to it, and when stuff happens, it's pretty gruesome. The five recruits are expected to battle it out, they're set tasks in an arena, and whoever finishes last gets one of their 'incentives' killed, and they are the one who has to choose which one (out of their two closest lover ones - a spouse, children, parents etc). Gross huh? But that's not the end of it, because they have to watch their loved one get their head chopped off, or eaten alive by rats, or some other awful death, and in these tasks that they have to complete -there are loads of people who are ill or diseased, and when the task is over - they get melted with acid -alive! I did enjoy some parts of this book, there were some scenes that were okay, but there were a lot of bits that went a little too far for me. I'm not liking horror at the moment, and some of the events in this book were just too gruesome for me. This is definitely not a book for kids - think 'resident evil'. I also wasn't expecting the gay love triangle! Nothing against homosexuals - do as you please, I just wasn't expecting it! Think this is the first gay love triangle I have ever come across to be honest. It's amazing that even in a twisted, dystopian world where people are fighting for their lives, the author puts in a love triangle - oh yeah, that happened in the hunger games too! Overall; I think maybe older male teens might enjoy this book, it's a bit like a horror movie really, and there's a 'war' sort of feeling to it too. It was a bit too raw and gruesome for me though. 6 out of more
by Sarah Elizabeth
The Culling is a very dark and gritty story. It has gore, it has emotions out the wazoo, it has characters put in impossible situations, forced to make choices that kids should never, ever have to make, and I could not take my eyes from the page. While I liked the book and respected what Lucky was trying to do for his little brother, I was pretty confused at the beginning. When you have a world and a government that is different from ours now, there needs to be some explanation of what exactly is going on, and I didn't quite get that. New terms and phrases were flying around and it took me out of the story because I couldn't remember if any explanation who or what that person's function was and what it really meant. I picked it up as I went along though, and because there is action and some depth of the characters going on, I didn't give up on it. It was hard getting to know the characters though because I knew that all of them wouldn't survive. They were learning to work as a team, but then they would remember that alliances really are not going to help them because their family members are on the line. I have read a lot of dystopias, and I see a lot of the same threads as the Hunger Games. This is not saying that Steven hasn't put his own twists on it, because he had, I just couldn't help lining up the kids making alliances, the different districts that contributed different things. Again, not a criticism, just a statement. Being in Lucky's head was a good change. I feel like I don't read too much with a male POV, unless it is dual perspective, so that is always a positive. Though, I did keep almost forgetting that he was a guy because of the attraction and tension between him and Digory. Nothing against the LGBT, but I am straight, and it is a hot guy, and from the first person, it puts me in Lucky's shoes, so therefore... Oh, and the ending. It broke my heart. Nothing was actually definite but I don't know how they could pull off not breaking my heart. Bottom Line: Dark and emotional story with a courageous main character who makes choices he should never have more
by Brandi Kosiner (Brandi Breathes Books)
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