Dystopian Review: BREEDER (Casey Hays)

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Breeder is a Christian dystopian-type novel that’s a mixture of An Ember in the Ashes, Planet of the Apes, and The Village. (Tweet this)


I discovered Breeder through the Speculative Faith library. I hadn’t heard of it and saw it was faith-based dystopian (hey! That’s my genre, too!) So, to give in to my reading dragon stay educated on the other dystopian novels out there…I bought it and gave it a read!

Here are my impressions:

Main Pros in Breeder:

  • Not your traditional dystopian: Okay yes, there’s the overpowering cultural leaders, and then you have the rebel girl who sees a problem and wants to fix it, but it’s done in a uniquely atypical way. Oh yeah…and there’s not a love triangle! *celebrates with much dancing* At laaaaaaast! I found the struggle of the characters very real, and the “control” enacted by the leadership to fit well within the established fictitious culture.
  • Solid writing: The author’s writing is tight, clear, and catchy. Since this book is fairly thick, that helps the reader go much faster and the story is always moving forward. I appreciated this both as an author and a reader.
  • Faith themes: The spiritual messages behind Kate’s struggle to understand “The Archer” felt very realistic. She had leaders telling her The Archer acted one way and wanted certain things, but that didn’t sit right with her. It’s similar to the struggle Christians have when they’re told God is one way, but they’re not discovering Him deeply and rightly. This book delivered this struggle without getting preachy and I expect to see more of a conclusion of Kate’s search in the second book.

Main Cons in Breeder:

  • Speedy-love: I didn’t fall in love with the boy. Maybe that’s just me, but I didn’t feel like we got to know him enough for the love between him and Kate to be convincing. Then again, if you know me at all, I tend to be a little hard-hearted on the romance front in novels.
  • Some parts are cliché: Noo! Not the villain monologue! *Villain laughs evilly* “Yes….here’s my evil plan.” Okay, it wasn’t that bad, and to an extent I could see why this certain villain (i.e. village leader) told Kate certain things. But…still, for as much as the two hated each other, it was hard to believe the villain would disclose as much information as she did.
  • A bit unbelievable: This is a post-apocalyptic type of dystopian. (Aren’t they all?) And though the culture of treating men like dogs and women like gods seemed extreme at times, it was still believable. I could see, in the right situations, how this could happen. But then…then we learned a bit about the boys next door (read: the peeps from other villages that aren’t supposed to exist.) Enter the X-men, the superpowers, the…less believable things. This came so late in the story (after so much down-to-earthness) that it left me not only surprised, but raising an eyebrow (okay, trying to raise an eyebrow. I’m not that talented.)

I enjoyed Breeder more than I expected to. I’d recommend it for readers 15+ and you can read my full review of Breeder on Goodreads.

Find Breeder on Amazon


Star Rating 4.5

4.5, baby!


Have you read or will you read Breeder

What qualities do you like to see in a dystopian novel?



About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Nadine,

    I confess to not having read any of the books you review. I don’t know why beyond the fact that our limited budgets prevents buying a lot of books (yes, even eBooks) and I’m presently engaged in an all-out-no-holds-barred Agatha Christie reading binge. Not exactly dystopian.


    I read all of your reviews because I’m learning so much about the genre itself.

    Such as the predominance of dark themes with little or no hope and love triangles (from this review).

    I once thought I’d like to try my hand at dystopian, but through reading your reviews, I’m discovering that what I thought would be a dystopian novel isn’t really dystopian.

    It might be the prequel to dystopian. You know, the whole society in collapse thing, but not actually dystopian. Is there a genre for that?

    By the way, is steampunk the same thing as dystopian?

    • Hi Carrie!
      Well it’s nice to know you enjoy the reviews! I completely understand how Agatha Christie can take over one’s reading life. 😛

      Yes, dystopian tends to have dark themes with little hope. But I think the “little hope” aspect comes from the author’s decisions in story-writing. My intent behind my own dystopian — A Time to Die — is to convey that there CAN be hope, even in the darkest situations. But it seems like you’re looking more for a definition of dystopian and other subgenres. I actually did a blog series over at Enclave Publishing on subgenres. Here are some that might help bring you some clarification:

      Definition of Dystopian
      Definition of Steampunk
      Other subgenres (scroll down this page. Not sure why mythological creatures pops up first. Just ignore that.)
      Regarding “society collapse”, that might be more post-apocalyptic or apocalyptic. Here’s a link to that subgenre definition. (Sorry to swarm you with so much reading material! But I don’t think I could sum up the genres adequately in a quick comment.) 😛

  2. Nadine,

    Wonderful! Thank you for the links. It just so happens that my weekly work is done, so I have Friday afternoon to read!

    When I first considered writing the stories that have been plaguing me the last few years, I did NOT want to write anything hopeless. I wanted to convey the idea that there is hope even in the darkest of times. I suppose that’s why I’m drawn to the Old Testament prophets. Most of their messages were pretty dark, but there was always hope.

    Thanks again for the links and for taking the time to respond!

  3. Hey, Nadine,

    Just finished reading the articles you sent me to. Thanks! I’m not sure I’m still clear on everything, but I now have a better idea of what each is about and how to classify them. So thanks for that.

    Here’s another question. I recently saw the term dieselpunk. Is that the same as steampunk but with diesel power instead of steam?

    If it is, how long will it be before someone starts writing petrolpunk? Grins!

    • I’m glad it helped a little.

      I’ve actually only just heard of dieselpunk and I have no idea what it is. I’ll have to research that. Your guess sounds pretty good to me! 😉 And maybe you’ll be the first to write petrolpunk! 😛

I love hearing from you!