The Executioner at the Institute for Contaminated Children

The Executioner at the Institute for Contaminated Children - Margaret E. Alexander I wasn’t sure what to expect of this story. The Executioner at the Institute for Contaminated Children (sheesh, that is a long title) is basically a bunch of kids with abilities trying to survive in a school/system that is trying to change them into something else or kill them. This is different than anything I have read before, that’s for sure.

There was a contamination about 20 years ago. A plant exploded and a lot of people were effected. The contamination doesn’t show up until they have children, and the children show certain abilities. Society calls them contaminated. The contamination shows up around age 16 and all children who show signs are then sent to one of the schools for such children. Also, their passports are stamped with a big red C, alerting officials tat they are not allowed to leave the country. It wouldn’t be so bad except that some of the schools have been blown up. Terrorists have started to target the schools, so being sent to one is almost a death sentence. Donna has just been diagnosed with contamination, and she is sent to a local school for contaminated children.

Donna was a smart character. She has the ability to predict things in games of chance. Given a multiple choice question, she will always choose right. This is what gets her discovered. Donna does the right thing almost against her own will. She is an advocate for the mistreated. At the school, she is tested over and over and she is able to learn more about her abilities. The school is designed so that these kids learn to work around the rules. The rules are laid out in a book about 700 pages long and they learn quickly that they must adapt if the want to earn privileges or even eat at this school. Earn points or go hungry, how motivating. All of the kids in this school are cool and frightening. Their abilities are so useful, they are scary. By the middle of the story, I could guess that most if not all of them ended up working for the government. They had too much to offer as spy and/or intelligence officers to just be set free.

The executioner in this tale is surprising. The end of this book had so many surprises. I did not see that coming. Then ending left a bit to the imagination, but still tied up all the loose ends enough for me to feel sated. There were a few deaths, a few lies and cover-ups, and of course a hint of romance. This tale had a bit of everything making it a good paranormal thriller, while staying in the confines of YA appropriateness.

I liked and was frustrated with this book. While the story was really enthralling, I kept loosing my place. The story is written in first person, and some chapters switched people without notice, not mid chapter mind you but, I kept loosing my place. I thought maybe it was every other chapter devoted to Donna, but no. Some of her first person account took up a few chapters subsequently, and then the next (or opposite) character would be first person. It made me stop and orient myself to the character telling the story each chapter. The other key players in this story had very different viewpoints, but it still took me a bit to figure it out. I mostly listened to this on text-to-speech and I was shocked and needed to hear some parts over and over so I could follow along. The last few chapters had my undivided attention and it ended well. Beside the chapter character switches, I have no complaints about this book. There was a bit of mystery, and suspense along with teenage angst making this a pretty solid tale. Unfortunately, the chapter person switches pissed me off enough to make me rate this at a 4 at most. It really irked me not to know whose head I was in at each chapter start.