Book Review: The 716 by S.J. Pratt
Title: The 716
Author: S.J. Pratt
Publisher: Self published
Page Count: 345
Blurb for The 716
Olivia is destined to be the future leader of Meliora. She’s smart, rich, and innovative, and she has a pink Identifeye light.
Andy is destined to be a waiter and househusband. His blue Identifeye light prevents him from pursuing his dream of becoming an engineer. After all, who ever heard of a male engineer?
But when Andy’s life becomes entangled with Olivia’s and he gets the chance to prove himself on the female stage, everything starts to change.
In a society where men are second-class citizens and only binary gender norms are acceptable, Andy and Olivia must confront their own beliefs and decide what kind of world they want to live in.
Will they do what is expected or what is right? And will the wrong choice spell disaster?
Debut author S.J. Pratt bursts onto the YA literary scene with a vivid coming-of-age story filled with resistance, romance, and the courage of everyday heroes. Fans of Cinder and Noughts and Crosses will enjoy this original and thought-provoking Sci-Fi adventure.
Imagine a YA version of The Power meets Divergent in this furistic sci-fi. Our main character is Andy, a mechanic living in Meliora, a future city on Earth where the gender power dynamic is flipped; women fill the seats of power while men play second fliddle. Intelligent—if a bit of a dreamer—Andy longs to go to university to study engineering, a career path he is barred from on account of his gender (only women are permitted to access higher education).
Meanwhile, we also have Olivia, daughter and successor of the current leader of Meliora, who feels the weight of her mother's AND society's expectations heavy on her shoulders. She also dreams of becoming an engineer, coverting her precious time away from leadership duties to work on her engineering projects.
You can probably see where this is going...
Or can you?
While The 716 has some of those familiar YA tropes we know and love, what I particularly enjoyed what that it was difficult guess where the next turn would take its characters. And this book covers so much in its pages, tackling some meaty topics along the way and still managing to keep it light and fun. It was also very satisfying seeing many a sexist phrases back on a male character that not only highlighted their utter ridiculousness, but social biases and unequities in our own society. The plight of non-binary and trans characters in this society was also a nice inclusion to see in the story's later chapters.
Women in STEM also feature heavily in this story (YES!), and despite not having any engineering knowledge whatsoever, the engineering components were easy to follow (not to mention interesting). (Side note: S.J. Pratt also runs an aerospace company, so you can bet it was accurate too!).
Lastly, I cannot write this review and not mention Andy's robot and tea-loving sidekick. Bubbly, but on point, you can guarantee he'll light up any pages he appears on.
All in all, The 716 is a fun and accessible read that's full of heart. Highly recommend, especially to people who are stepping into sci-fi for the first time. It is a fantastic introduction to the genre that won't overwealm while also gently encouraging readers to think critically on the nature of gender and the roles society constructs around it.