Enhanced Book Review

Hi, all, Sher here with a review of Enhanced by Courtney Farrell. I enjoy an SF dystopia with some romance thrown in as long as the emphasis is on the SF, the plot isn’t predictable, and there’s plenty of adventure. Enhanced fits the bill. Woot!

Enhanced BLURB:

Michelle was born into the Institute’s eugenics program, where doctors breed people like livestock. One powerful man decides which children grow up, and which disappear. Culls are dumped in the slum outside Institute walls, and those kids never come back. Michelle has survived every purge, and she’s about to win a luxurious life as a breeder. When her brother and her boyfriend are both mysteriously culled, despite their high scores, she goes over the wall to find them. Alone in the ghetto, she’s in trouble until handsome, streetwise Dillon stakes a claim to her. She’s mortified because the Enhanced see Norms as little more than animals. But the doctor is using the missing boys in a twisted experiment, and she needs Dillon’s help to stop him. Michelle must rescue the boys, but a plague is spreading, the doctor is after her, and Dillon isn’t thrilled to help her find her lost boyfriend.

So what are we waiting for? Here’s my review:

EnhancedEnhanced by Courtney Farrell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like dystopias with convoluted plots where I can’t guess what will happen next, and I like reading different characters’ points of view where everyone has their own agenda. Enhanced kept me entertained and guessing. Although it started slow, the characters developed well, and once Michelle met Dillon, I didn’t want to put the book down. I wish he’d come into the story earlier, but it’s good he didn’t get his own point of view. I hate knowing whether a guy is just attracted to a girl or whether he loves her until the right time.

Characters and plot elements that worked: First, the whole eugenics idea with the creepy doctor; conniving, power-hungry, or abusive parents; Enhanced in general lording it over the Norms while the Enhanced teens are stuck (literally) with experiments and tests to weed out the weak. Second, characterization including Michelle’s progression from crippling fear to still fearful but determined heroine, Seth and Brian venturing into the Warren among gangs and learning to be loyal, good and bad people on both sides, and changing loyalties as disease spreads. Third, the unusual talents of Todd and Jeanette and her conflicting agendas, the triplets, and many others I won’t mention because they’d spoil surprises. Fourth, the author tackled some tough issues and handled them well, including differing social mores among the Enhanced and Norms.

What didn’t work as well: The story direction seemed too random at first, wandering, and the characters’ viewpoints sometimes switched in a chapter labeled as one character. Head-hopping started early on, but friendships and rivalries developed within the Enhanced teens in time to make me care about following them through the slow start in spite of the unexpected point of view switches. Then the seemingly random events came together in an exciting way, a payoff worth waiting for. The other problem was that some genetically guided behavior seemed flawed. The non-bonding concept made sense in leading to casual relationships, but not in a male forming attachments to one girl when another more beautiful and popular was in hot pursuit. Once I read how much destruction took place in the war, I also wondered how any civilian group had maintained enough technology to keep the lights on, let alone do extensive genetic manipulations.

Overall, there were a lot more things I liked than not, including how events snowballed and puzzle pieces came together towards the end. I really liked how Michelle made serious, not minor, mistakes in trying to help, making it feel more realistic when things turned out badly, not all coming up roses or ring around the rosies either. That reminds me of the excellent visuals. I could picture almost all of the book, making me squirm in some scenes. Best of all, the author achieved a full arc in a series book, a rare thing these days. Since Enhanced led into the next book instead of leaving me hanging, I’ll follow the trail wherever it goes. 3.5 stars overall, rounding up to 4 for the social value in spite of some editing problems. This would be a good book for high school reading but not middle school due to content. I was provided a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Courtney Farrell was once a molecular biologist, but her habit of daydreaming destroyed far too many experiments. As it turned out, writing down the movies behind her eyes was a lot more fun than lab work. Courtney is the author of fourteen nonfiction books for young people, mostly on social and environmental topics. She lives with her family on a Colorado ranch where they support a barn full of freeloading animals, including a fat draft horse and a bunch of crazy chickens. Enhanced is her first novel.


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Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. Thank you for reviewing Enhanced. The sequel, called Sacrificed, will launch in 2014 with Crescent Moon Press. Want a sneak peek at the blurb for Sacrificed? Here goes:

    At the Institute, they breed the best and kill the rest. Sixteen-year-old Michelle is a survivor, but she’s a pawn in a game she doesn’t understand. A remote arctic military base mysteriously goes silent. The Institute’s founder needles his old enemy, the colonel, by sending teenagers to help. Michelle’s half-breed boyfriend Dillon makes the team, along with her hot ex, who won’t give her up. At the base, Norms attack. The rebels capture Michelle, but they’re not the brutal savages she imagined. The military is capturing their women and killing their men, and if it keeps up, these primitive people will die out entirely. Their cause is a just one. Will Michelle take up arms against her own kind?
    Meanwhile, Dillon faces his own temptations. As a half-breed, he’d never succeed at Headquarters, but military doctors think he’s special. The colonel offers him a sweet deal, with money, status, and beautiful Enhanced girls who wouldn’t even talk to him back home. All Dillon has to do is wipe out the Norms who are harboring Michelle.

  2. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! http://angelsefer.blogspot.com

  3. Sher, glad to see you still have some time for reading and blogging. How’s the writing going?

  4. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect! You can follow my blog at http://lorenmathisbooks.blogspot.com/


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