They were never supposed to happen to each other.
A love such as theirs was never supposed to endure, not in the highly controlled society of The Sectors.
Yet, a chance encounter at dinner led to breakfast at the diner down the road.
They each thought they had found their perfect soulmate, but neither could have imagined the awful truth they would face.
Agent Christopher Rockford has been the best assassin in the agency for eight years, and he loves his job.
He loves his solitary lifestyle.
He loves keeping the world safe by getting rid of anarchists who threaten their orderly society.
He loves his comfortable life as a member of the wealthy Coastal upper class.
But in pursuit of a target, he meets Jenna, a mysterious civilian who belongs to society’s lowest and most shunned group. Being around her is life-changing. She makes him feel for the first time, and he is instantly captivated.
Set in an orderly world of near-perfect surveillance, genetically modified humans, and extreme socioeconomic divide, The Unexpected Inlander will take you through Chris’s journey of self-discovery and learning that change begins within.
Read full synopsis here
This book was provided to us by the author for review, however all opinions are entirely our own.
The Unexpected Inlander is set in a dystopian society where the government offers couples the chance to screen their unborn children for diseases and have their DNA modified to remove the faulty genes. For couples who opt out, their children will be raised as Purebreds on the fringes of society with severe limitations on their lifestyle – there are restaurants they’re barred from, careers that are out of reach, places they can’t travel to, and to top it all off – they’re constantly treated like criminals by Modifieds. It’s a futuristic dystopian meets secret agent meets star-crossed lovers story
Ngoc: So I’d basically sworn off dystopians when Kellyn Thompson contacted us about her book and I just couldn’t resist! Genetic engineering is honestly not a far-fetched idea at all, and the notion of segregating non-modified individuals in order to control the spread of preventable diseases is a topic I find both contentious and extremely interesting.
Nish: I LOVE THE IDEA OF GENETIC ENGINEERING. It is so fascinating to me. One of my favourite books when I was younger was The Declaration by Gemma Malley (which heavily features this idea) and one of my favourite movies is GATTACA (there are not enough words for how much I love this movie, also along the same ideology). Safe to say I was very on board.
Ngoc: Unfortunately, I didn’t really get the angsty forbidden romance I was expecting – although I liked Jenna, I found Chris to be pretty flat and one-dimensional and the romance itself was a weird mix of insta-attraction and slow-burn. The first time Chris meets Jenna, he’s actually on a mission to assassinate someone, and he spends the majority of his assignment courting her instead of digging up clues.
Seems a touch…unprofessional for someone who’s constantly described as being DA BEST IN THEIR FIELD (not even joking, it’s mentioned about 5 times in the first 2 pages).
Nish: Some of my favourite lines in the novel actually come from the ‘I got distracted on my mission’ love story. It is kind of a weird combination of intense but low-key, but I didn’t mind it too much.
He lay in bed, feeling more content than he had ever been in his entire life, and he wondered how he could have ever thought he had felt content before.
Sadly though, one of my biggest issues with this novel was my inability to really connect to Chris’ character early on. It made it hard to engage with the novel, as he felt extremely one-dimensional through most of the book. I understand that he needs to appear mediocre to excel at his profession of ending lives, but I feel like it could have been constructed so he only seems this way to other characters, whilst still giving us as readers a more engaging insight.
Ngoc: Jenna also discovers a HUGE secret about Chris (no it’s not his identity – it’s much juicier than that) – I’m talking about the dealbreaker of all dealbreakers here. WORSE THAN CHEATING. And she just…forgives him? AND THEY JOKE ABOUT IT LATER. It’s so hard to convey how utterly inappropriate this reaction is without spoiling the plot twist, but my GOD I just could not compute 😨
Nish: For the sake of Ngoc’s mind not exploding, I’ll move on. The dystopian world building was actually really interesting. The introduction of the two different groups – ‘Purebreds’ and ‘Modified’, and the concepts that Thompson actually describes, are really interesting. It was NOT a world I would want to live in, so I think it’s a dystopian done well.
Fascinating but also kind of scared.
Ngoc: I agree – I really enjoyed learning about the futuristic society! The government uses all kinds of creepy technology to keep track of its citizens, from cataloguing personal heat signatures to retina scanners every time you drive or enter a building. And get this – they can control your cars, too.
The government every time a Purebred breathed in the novel
I think what really stopped this book from being a 4-star read for me was the writing style. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s waffly writing – and this book was full of needlessly wordy descriptions and filler scenes. My inner med student/pharmacist can’t handle
people I mean books that don’t cut to the chase.
Being a Coastal Purebred, she was obviously wealthy and of high status, so walking in with her would help him fit in and look like he belonged there, too. But because she was a Purebred, people would not pay too much attention to her, so walking in with her would not draw attention to himself.
Nish: I also struggled a bit with the writing style. I personally think if this book was in first person rather than third, it would have eliminated some of the needless explanations (and I am someone who prefers third person). I think with a bit of trimming, there would be a greater sense of urgency, which a story about star-crossed-lovers-meets-assassin surely could use!
We’d recommend The Unexpected Inlander if you’re in the market for a modern take on the dystopian genre. It explores issues that are eerily relevant to our current times, and if you’re a fan of character-driven books and slow burn romances, then this is definitely the book for you!