“Groomed” by RC Hancock

“Groomed” by RC Hancock 683 1024 Reader Views Kids

Groomed   

RC Hancock
Independently Published (2017)
ISBN:  978-1973506713
Reviewed by Megan Weiss for Reader Views (01/2024)  

“Groomed” by RC Hancock is book one of The Husband Trials series, about a 16-year-old boy named Travis who, after graduating high school must enter a life-or-death contest with over 500 other boys to win the hand of one girl.  Almost one thousand years into the future, Travis lives in a society where the ratio of boys to girls is 87 to 1.  The reason?  A mysterious disease that swept the world a couple of hundred years ago and decimated the female population.

The Husband Trials contest is a chance for Travis to prove to his beloved Wendy, over the course of three years, that he is the right husband for her, and that together they should help repopulate the earth.  Something is amiss, however, as Travis’ opponents are mysteriously killed in random “accidents.”  Can Travis stay away from the Alphas, a group bent on eliminating the competition by any means possible, and make it to the top twenty so he can talk to Wendy?  Or will he be eliminated (killed) before he gets the chance?

“Groomed” is a young-adult sci-fi that is part Hunger Games, part Bachelorette.  I thought the premise was quite unique.  A distant future where a mysterious plague leaves a disproportionate gender population is entirely plausible to imagine. Clones, satellites sending information to the past, the book had all the makings of a sci-fi comedy that, at heart, also has a sobering message: humans are always only one disaster away from possible extinction. 

While “Groomed” was a fast-paced, funny, and creative read, it just did not fully connect with me.  I was slightly disoriented in the beginning when we were thrust into a narration from a wheelchair-bound high school boy named CJ, since the summary of the book only mentions Travis.  Then, we finally learn who Travis is, and it is someone who CJ is reading about himself.  I felt a disconnect between the two worlds and stories and did not feel like they gelled as they were supposed to.  This resulted in having a hard time understanding why CJ’s point of view was necessary to begin with.  It is indicated that this is to be a longer series, so it is possible that readers will get this information in later books, but for now, it seemed like CJ’s narrations came off as distractions to reading about Travis and his Husband Trials. 

I also found some of the attitudes toward women in general a little bit of a turn-off in “Groomed,” even though this is considered satirical. Additionally, while it seemed like part of both CJ’s and Travis’ character arcs included being able to realize that physical appearance was only a small part of a girl’s overall package, in the end, neither of them seemed to overcome their shallow ideas of a girl’s worth completely. 

Overall, “Groomed” was a quick, fun, quirky read.  I think teen boys would like it, but I worry that the audience might be too narrow.  That said, teen boys are an audience that always needs new, exciting reading material.  I will always applaud authors and books that strive to reach this demographic.

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