Review: “Recon” by Tarah Benner

51tgKjyVUcL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Recon (The Fringe) (Volume 1) by Tarah Benner. 296 pages. CreateSpace.

I had such high hopes for this dystopian story. The reviews have been stellar, the author has quite a few credits to her name, and the concept was pretty good too. But I was sorely disappointed.

In a nutshell, the story is Wool meets Divergent. After a nuclear war, everyone (well, almost everyone) lives in underground bunkers. At a certain age, you take tests to determine where you will go with your career. There are three Tiers: Tier One are the elite individuals who pretty much run things. Tier Two are the white-collar managers who have special treatment and special privileges, such as Control, and Health and Rehab. Tier Three are those who didn’t score high enough to get into Tier Two, and inherit the blue-collar work, and in turn aren’t expected to live long. One of these jobs is Recon, the regular patrol of the exterior to make sure the compound remains safe. So far, so good.

Harper scores very low on the testing, and ends up on Recon. One would expect the story would then be about what recon is and the dangers inherent in being on patrol. But this first book is about training. And that’s not really what it’s about either. According what happens here, training is essentially running around a track, doing pushups and learning self defense. No classwork. No shooting. No survival skills. Because that’s the extent of what it shows.

This book really focuses on Harper’s relationship with her trainer, Eli, who supposedly is a hot 24-year-old lieutenant who yells at her a lot, yet is really just fighting his own desire for her. In addition, Harper has anger issues, and perpetually gets into trouble because she can’t believe she scored as low as she did on her test. Well, apparently she didn’t, but I won’t tell you too much to spoil the story. The point is, I came in expecting a story about RECON, and got something else.

If you’re looking for a relationship story, I would say this book’s okay, but really not even that great, because I didn’t end up caring about the characters. Harper was annoying, Eli was indecisive and weak. And of course, both of them were stereotypically gorgeous. As far as dystopian literature, it was that in name only.

The best part of Recon is that it’s only 296 pages. I give it two stars out of five.