Publisher's Note:  

Rosa never thought she'd make it to sixteen... 

When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death, you might find yourself fighting to survive. Sixteen-year-old Rosa lives in one of the eight enclosed cities of The Woodlands. Where the lone survivors of a devastating race war have settled in the Russian wilderness because it's the only scrap of land left habitable on the planet. In these circular cities, everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph. He's blonde, fair-skinned, green-eyed, and the laid-back complete opposite of Rosa. She's never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger. 
But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed. 
The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want. After all, they are considered superheroes by the general public. But not everyone sees them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.

The Woodlands: Book 1 The Woodlands Series

by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

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Overall Review:  

Rosa is 15 as the story begins.  She faces a desperate decision that will affect her future forever.  With a unique voice full of grit and spunk, Rosa is not like most of the other people surrounding her.  Full of fear and born into desperation, the town's people try to be invisible, or wish they could be.  Rosa is born into a happy family but unfortunately the happiness just isn't meant to be.  Facing diabolical decisions and determined not to be one of the "sheep," many would end up calling her rebellious. 

Dystopian novels are inspiring in the sense that there are usually a handful of people who are willing to fight to be free of tyranny and oppression (my favorite part).  This book does not disappoint.  The pace is thoroughly enjoyable and keeps the reader on the edge of their seat.  The author, Lauren Nicolle Taylor, writes in a way that the pages fly by effortlessly.  Powerfully descriptive, the emotion that pours through Rosa is sometimes puzzling, but always enlightening.  A romance runs through the story and is often the bright spot in this desperate tale of survival.  There are five books in this series.  Book one ends with a partial conclusion but also leaves the story in such a way that the reader must read book two in order to find out if hope of survival is realized or just out of reach.  This would be a good read not just for older teens but also for adults who enjoy a fast-paced dystopian novel with a glimmer of hope for the future.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation; 5 mild obscenities; 1 anatomical term. 

Violence/Gore: Teen girl beaten on back, scars & fresh wounds; parent mysteriously disappears; 9-year-old girl is dragged by the hair, small amount of blood; teen girl punched in stomach by a man; man & woman beaten, mark cut into their chests, then killed; verbally abusive step-father; 12-year-old girl held down for a tattoo, screaming, kicking; step-father held 12-year-old girl's legs so tightly they are bruised, she kicks his face drawing blood; a man put his night stick across a teen's fingers and pressed down hard to hurt the teen; a girl yelled at an adult, he hit her on the back of the neck killing her, 2 boys told to drag off the body; young boy's mom held a knife to his throat threatening to kill him; teen girl hit on the side of the face with a hammer, injuries, blood; at least 100 teen girls abducted, drugged and impregnated, kept drugged for months; woman beaten to death because she would not give something up; people disappear because they try to protect a lady; teen girl punches a boy, he trips, cuts his arm, some blood; abducted girls wake up, screaming, fear, attacks from captors; teen girl attacks a man, stabs him in the eye with a needle, elbows him in the face; group of teens hunted by wolves, one teen bit, some blood; teen girl doesn't like an adult and dreams of throwing her into a chopper blade; teen girl dies in childbirth, pain, screams, blood, death; genetic engineering including 400 women who are breeding stock and disposed of when no longer useful; wild hunting cat attacks teen girl, teen boy, and a baby, scratches, screaming, blood; teen girl stabs wild animal repeatedly, guts the animal, cooks it, then eats it; animals stalk teens at night, people fear for their lives; soldiers chase teens, shots fired; character bitten and has a terrible reaction resulting in death(s).

Sex/Nudity:  Teen boy & girl kiss and hug often, minor details; mother works as a prostitute to support her son; a young man admits he's in love with another young man; teen boy and girl cuddle in a tree to avoid danger; teen boy takes teen girls clothes off her in order to clean blood off her, no physical descriptions, clinical; teen boys joke about intimacy after a teen girl's baby is born, no descriptive details; teen girl strips off her shirt in front of others, bare chested, not descriptive.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Social conflicts, parental disappearance, abusive step-parent, homosexuality, soldiers, war, guns, dystopian communism, abusive leaders, death of children, murder of parents, unwanted pregnancy, divorce, emotional abuse, abduction.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Drugs given to teen girls in order to keep them in a fog for months.

Reviewed By Beth
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