My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This was a dark read set in the future where the poor people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives. Huge chunks of the female population were killed years ago by an untested breast cancer vaccination. This made the ratio of men to women 3/1. Instead of trying to make up for this loss in good ways The Run was created where rich men could “capture” a woman to do whatever they wished with. Her family was given “credits” to compensate but this game was dehumanizing and often the men who “won” the women were sick twisted abusive men.
The male and female leads in this book were reminiscent of a beauty and beast type love story. Even though it’s a long time before there is any healthy love introduced. The male Dare O’Shaughnessy was one of the richest men in this world gone wrong. He is mean and ruthless and will not take the word no from anyone. He destroys lives with a flick of his hand. He also owns “The Run” now inherited from his sick and twisted deceased father. One day he sees this woman that he has to have and in his mind there is no question she will be his for as long as he wants her and then will discard her. When this woman wants nothing to do with him he does everything within his power to bring her to her knees.
Aya Smith and her uncle run a bar in the slum part of the current “poor” world. They barely make enough to survive and Aya does her best to downplay that she is a woman by having a shaved head and wearing baggy ill fitting clothes. Despite her circumstances she is a very strong willed, opinionated woman who refuses to let the rich treat her like she is nothing. When she comes under the radar of Dare and he gives her his proposition of being basically his sex slave for as long as he wants her she literally throws is back in his face setting Dare off to do horrible things to her uncle and their bar to make her desperate enough to have to join The Game to get the money needed to get her uncle out of jail.
For more than 60% of this book Dare was a horrible person that you just couldn’t see any redemption in. Eventually we get flashbacks to his childhood and see why he is the man he is today. Its not excusable but he knew no other way to be. His main goal was to break the spirit of Aya and then discard her. Problem was once he broke her something inside of him broke open also and all these emotions that were beat out of him as a kid were suddenly there for him to deal with and he didn’t know how to handle that.
Dare does his best to redeem himself not only for Aya but also with how he conducts business. But he had to do the one thing he didn’t want to ever do and that was let Aya go.
There is a happy ending for Aya and Dare but even though Dare shut down the The Game we find out that there is a more sinister thing called The Auction that women and children are being kidnapped for. That is the next book in the series and throughout this one you find out who the main characters are going to be in that one and this reader is hook into this sick and twisted dystopia world and look forward to the next book.