Secondborn by Amy A. Bartol

Our Score
Secondborn is the first in a YA dystopian series that was offered as a Kindle First Read for July 2017. Fans and readers of Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series will enjoy this bookMay not be appropriate for younger YA due to sexual content (see Cons).



Firstborns rule society. Secondborns are the property of the government. Thirdborns are not tolerated. Long live the Fates Republic.

On Transition Day, the second child in every family is taken by the government and forced into servitude. Roselle St. Sismode’s eighteenth birthday arrives with harsh realizations: she’s to become a soldier for the Fate of Swords military arm of the Republic during the bloodiest rebellion in history, and her elite firstborn mother is happy to see her go.

Televised since her early childhood, Roselle’s privileged upbringing has earned her the resentment of her secondborn peers. Now her decision to spare an enemy on the battlefield marks her as a traitor to the state.

But Roselle finds an ally—and more—in fellow secondborn conscript Hawthorne Trugrave. As the consequences of her actions ripple throughout the Fates Republic, can Roselle create a destiny of her own? Or will her Fate override everything she fights for—even love?



  • I enjoyed the storyworld. The Fates have a similar feel to Divergent’s different classes. That all the buildings are cement trees is fascinating. 
  • The story is rich in conflict – personal, familial, political. I’m interested to see where the series will go.
  • The main character is likeable despite her upbringing. You root for her and respect her at the same time.


  • Oversexualized for my taste. The first time Roselle kisses a boy she happens to get naked with him in a shower. The scenes are a bit steamy (pun intended). They don’t have sex in the story, but I wouldn’t want my younger YA daughters to read this.
  • There’s a gap of several months in the middle of the book. The effect is jarring. I would have preferred a transition chapter or something.
  • Our heroine is on the unbelievable side. She’s basically indestructible, gorgeous, and amazingly intelligent all at the same time.

Final Word

I enjoyed the book. It was a solid read and I might pick up the next one(s) when it comes out, but it won’t be my first choice among the myriad of cleaner dystopian YA in the marketplace.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is your birth order? Would you be a firstborn, secondborn, or something else? Which do you think is the best position? 
  2. What do you think of Roselle’s relationship with her mother and brother? How might things have turned out differently if her mother showed her more compassion?
  3. Which of the Fates would you most like to be in and why?
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Lisa Godfrees
Lisa Godfrees is fascinated with creatures that don't exist, especially jackalopes. Cactus cats are a close second. When not searching for elusive mythological beasts, she types middle-grade and YA fantasy. Read her short stories for free at

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