ARC Review: Bubblegum by Sari Taurez

Bubblegum by Sari Taurez
Series: Bubblegum #1
Genre: Science Fiction | Dystopia
Length: N/A pages
Expected publication 9th October 2017 by Sari Taurez
Purchase: I’ll update with purchase links once they’re available.
Sari Taurez: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
ARC received from author for review

Synopsis:
Tiana is your typical pampered young twenty-something with a love for expensive shoes, hot guys, and murder.
Status means the difference between life and death in this society. For Tiana, she’s never had anything to worry about – that is until her mother cuts her off from the family riches. Luckily she’s got good prospects ahead: a job that could make her a killing.

Her first client: Julia, a lower-class I.T girl that finds life can be tough for those who can’t afford to call the police. When the orphanage where Julia volunteers is targeted by the infamous brothel-owner Bobby Nails, Tiana is excited to take the job. But when she discovers Bobby Nails has a full army of mercenaries at his disposal, Tiana wonders if she may be in over her head.

Tiana and Julia face an unexpected adventure as they seek vengeance against the elusive Nails. Their adventures lead them not only to their target, but to a partnership stronger than any of their differences. But will it be enough to stop Nails and save the orphans from a terrible fate?

Okay bare with me on this one because I made 8 pages of notes on this book and I’m not great at being coherent when I love something so here is to me trying to make it more readable for this review.

Sari contacted me on twitter offering me an eARC of Bubblegum to read, she pitched as a “Dystopian New Adult Thriller with feminist themes and LGBT characters” which of course I just had to say yes too.

I’m really glad I did.

From the start Bubblegum is a wild ride as we’re introduced to Tiana talking about her firsts because the night we’re joining her on she had her first kill.

That’s right. Tiana (our MC) is a killer and she loves it.

At least she killed for a good reason though? Am I right?

The guy in question was trying to kidnap a lady, Julia, to take her to Top Dog Bobby Nails who runs an underground prostitution ring. The one that Julia was trying to start a petition against.

He had it coming. He had it coming. (You know the song)

[TW: Yes this is a dark book, whilst its fun and fast paced like an action movie, it does contain subject matter that could be triggering – rape, forced prostitution, forced prostitution of children, abuse, slavery, and murder. Please note though the rape scenes that you do read tend to fade to black and nothing too violent happens on page though there is some that happen off page to other characters without us knowing much detail of them]

The only reason Bobby Nails is able to do such a gross thing and get away with it is the dystopian part of this story.

The way this dystopian place is constructed is really interesting as its based off hierarchy of status. Those that are Level 1 are higher than the Level 4’s and so on and so forth. (Their levels are indicated by a band on their arm) So if a high level commits a crime against a lower level they can’t be prosecuted.

After this night Tiana chooses (or is forced too by her mother being not too happy at her lazy ass) to move in with Julia, a much lower level, and starts her life of crime-fighting. Or more specifically killing people who’re doing horrible things.

I think its important to note that Tiana isn’t a hero. At the start of the book she is helping other people but for wrong reason – she likes to kill, she likes the rush – and she also takes their money after saving them. This definitely places her as at least morally-gray because she has access to money due to her high level but the people she often saves are worse off than here and usually its money they really needed to keep.

I found her interesting to read about because of those reasons and also due to some events that happen in the book which seem to indicate Tiana’s feelings change a little so she’s doing it to help people as well. But she still wants the money.

Julia is an awesome character. She’s the second narrator in this book and is a queer , religious POC who has wanted to take Bobby Nails down from the start but with her low level hasn’t achieved much. I think she’s happy that Tiana shows an interest and gets involved almost accidentally. She ends up being a crucial part to Tiana’s survival, proves she’s smart and caring, and is the best team leader Tiana could’ve hoped for.

Julia cares deeply about her Church and the orphaned children they care for, and its those kids that she is trying to protect and keep out of BN’s hands. It is because of this we know she’s a morally good character, she really does want to protect as many people as possible. Which means we have a nice contrast in narrators.

William is introduced as someone in need of a killer, he hires Tiana to look into Bobby Nails business to save two people he cares about – Claire and Ruby – Tiana doesn’t jump at this idea until its clear he is willing to pay a lot of money and she figures she can ask the people who signed Julia’s petition too.

I mentioned briefly about Tiana’s feelings change a little and this happens around the time she decides to go to BN’s to gather information and is ultimately taken in as a new prostitute. I believe during her time here when she gets to experience things for herself she realises how inconsiderate she’s been. She keeps up her bravado, strong willed, and foul mouthed personality (all this I think is important as it helps the others to follow her lead when she needs them too) and whilst it doesn’t explicitly state her change of mind I believe it does show us with how she has been effected by it with comments on her facial expressions. These in particular felt very real.

So much happens in the story that I don’t really want to touch on any more specifics but I can’t finish this review without talking about how great the rep is in this book.

In addition to a religious and lesbian person of colour, we’re introduced to a bisexual who stands up to Tiana and corrects their understanding of what it means to be bisexual. We also meet a trans individual who, despite growing up in an abusive situation, has remained strong and is loved and accepted by another character.

Okay I think I should start to wrap it up now.

Basically I really loved the characters and whilst the story at times was predictable it didn’t make it any less enjoyable due to the fact it was fast paced much like an action movie.

Be sure to pick up on release date guys!

5 stars / 5 stars

*I’m super hopeful this is book one in a series, it has an ending where it could be either but I love the characters so much I’d happily read more about them.

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