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Reviewed by Ayrial King for Readers' Favorite
Braedan Lalor’s The Fatherless: Alastar’s Urban War is about three young children learning to survive in a kill-or-be-killed society. Separated from their parents since birth, children are labeled either psychopaths or oracles. Psychopaths are emotionless deadened souls who are perfect for survival, and oracles are sensitive empaths who feel what others cannot. Sophia, an oracle who managed to hang around psychopaths, keeps a close eye on Alastar Daivi, a highly skilled psychopath nicknamed the Legend and the Child of Destiny, depending on who you asked. Alastar’s only concern is to survive long enough to leave the Station, even after acquiring oracle Demsie as a “friend”. The three learn that they must evolve and adapt if they want to make it out of the Station alive. Braedan Lalor centers this tale around Alastar Daivi, an extraordinary psychopath said to be the Child of Destiny; Sophia, an oracle who has clung to him since day one; and Demsie, a fellow oracle who views Sophia akin to a sister and has clung to her since they met. Numerous encounters with other Stationers plus a new psychopath force Alastar to use his skills to their limits.
The Fatherless is faster paced and, dare I say, grittier than The Hunger Games. The title is a bit misleading in that it’s a story about children who are either psychopaths or oracles learning how to survive in the harshest environment(s) that could be created. The reward for those who survive is to live outside the Station with the needed survival skills. I found it hard to know who to root for, especially when Braedan Lalor described the world his characters were in. It seemed like a no-win situation until Alastar comes in the picture. He seemed almost like an antihero by nature, especially when he’s around Sophia, but he eventually grew on me as the person who can possibly change the world by symbolizing a different type of hope. His struggle with learning how to respond to different kinds of challenges presented by Devant and Smacks showed him, and readers, how much he has to learn if he wants to survive past graduation, especially since now outside forces have decided to change the rules to this “game” of survival. The Fatherless sets the stage for Alastar to grow from being thought of as the Child of Destiny to becoming Alastar the Legend. I can’t wait for the sequel to see how far Lalor will push the boundaries of the world he’s created. This is a thrilling read for fans of dystopian Young Adult stories.