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The Culling (The Torch Keeper) Paperback – March 8, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Torch Keeper Series

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up-The Establishment controls everyone and everything in this bleak future world. Sixteen-year-old Lucky and his four-year-old brother, Cole, live in a rundown building and have little to eat. Their parents are dead, and they have only a friendly (but sickly) neighbor to watch over them. Lucky does his best to provide for Cole. When the time comes for The Establishment to choose its new Recruits, Lucky risks being thrown in prison to get in touch with an old friend, now high in rank, to try to save himself from being recruited. Unfortunately, his actions have the opposite result when the friend betrays him. Along with four others, he must compete to win every round of Trials or else choose which of the two people he cares about most will die. Lucky's situation is made even more complicated by his affection for and attraction to Digory, a rebellious and handsome young man. The book has an interesting, disturbing concept, but it is not very original. Lucky seems bright, and yet makes large errors in judgment. This novel is similar to Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games in its brutality, but it fails to provoke the same emotional attachment readers feel for the characters in Collins's blockbuster. In some ways, this dystopian vision seems even more unsettling; throughout the Trials, the Recruits' loved ones are killed in increasingly disturbing ways.-Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


"Original and compelling ...A heart-pounding page-turner, fans of fantasy and adventure will eagerly await the second installment." VOYA - Courtney Huse Wika

"The Culling is jam-packed with action. Between the mysterious and chilling exposition, to the terrifying and tense Trials, The Culling never has a slow moment." - San Francisco Book Review 

"...stands as a rare dystopia in which gay characters exist." - Kirkus Reviews 

"...an exciting read for all you adventure-seekers. It's like the Hunger Games, except with gay characters." - The Advocate 

Product Details

  • Series: The Torch Keeper (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (March 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073873537X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738735375
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #934,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steven dos Santos is author of THE TORCH KEEPER novels, a Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic series. Book One, THE CULLING, was released by FLUX Books in March of 2013, and named an American Library Association 2014 Rainbow List Top Ten Selection. Book Two, THE SOWING, was released on March 8, 2014. Book 3 of The Torch Keeper series. THE RAISING, will be released on January 20th, 2016. His new novel, DAGGER, a Young Adult Paranormal Espionage Adventure, was released by Evernight Teen in September 2015! Steven is a Team Member of We Need Diverse Books and is represented by literary agent, Ginger Knowlton of Curtis Brown, Ltd. Steven studied Motion Picture production at University of Miami and graduated from Florida International University with a B.S. Degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications Television Broadcasting program. He is a passionate advocate of LGBT rights.

To learn more about Steven, visit his website: www.stevendossantos.com.
You can also connect with him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/stevendossantosauthor); Twitter (www.twitter.com/stevendossantos, www.twitter.com/thetorchkeeper); and Tumblr (http://stevendossantos.tumblr.com/).

You can also add Steven's books to your Goodreads reading list here:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Okay, with the freaking out over, let me just say this book is absolutely fantastic! As a dystopian lover, I thought I was prepared for anything. Haha, NOPE. I first picked up the book hearing it was a LGBT book, and come on, we really don't have enough of those in the world. But after looking at a few reviews and hearing it was dystopian as well, I was sorta standing there in awe like, "Wait. This book is LGBT /and/ dystopia?" JACKPOT.

And jackpot was right. We've got this kid named Lucian Spark, or Lucky for short. Set in a post apocalyptic world, Lucky's reached the age of sixteen which meant he was eligible for the Establishment to force him to participate in the Trials with four other kids. The Trials is a literal series of trials these kids have to pass through for one winner to become a part of the Imposers force, a type of police force.

But here's the catch: should you come in last place of any trial, you will have to choose between your two incentives (most loved people) to murder brutally. In Lucky's case, this was between his stand-in mother and his 4-year-old little brother, Cole. Reading through the deaths some of these kids have to witness literally tore me in two, page after page.

Knowing this is dystopian, we all know how jacked up the government was going to be. But this was jacked up to a whole new level! I don't want to spoil much, but let's just say you're going to be bawling in tears by the end of each trial.

I will mention that, yes, I did read the Hunger Games trilogy prior to The Culling. And while some aspects of the two were similar, not similar enough to call The Culling a total rip off of Hunger Games. My philosophy is to read every book with a clear conscience- I give every one a fair chance.
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Format: Paperback
This is an amazingly well crafted dystopian. Dos Santos imagines a dark future where the state enforces brutality and lack of feeling by recruiting teens and putting them through a grueling military training. Each exercise is designed to take a little more human soul from the recruit...and if they refuse or fail in their task, they must choose a loved one to be executed. First we are introduced to five unforgettable recruits - each one with well developed backstories, quirks, secrets etc. Lucky, our main character, has devoted himself to caring for his younger brother. His recruitment is complicated by two factors - he falls in love with another recruit and the horrible gamesmaster in charge is a jealous ex-lover. As the story progresses, the reader is constantly presented with a fascinating set of possible outcomes which twist, turn and surprise. Dos Santos is a rare author who not only plots brilliantly, but develops characters who make you care deeply about each turn of the plot. The story is edge of your seat exciting, dark and yet has haunting moments of love, both romantic and familial. This is also an important book for YA literature in general, because it features gay main characters in the framework of a book that is not 'about' being gay or a 'problem' novel of any kind. This novel grabs the reader right from the beginning and never lets go until the amazing climax. Buy popcorn...this is better than a movie!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are so many things to love about Steven Dos Santos' book one in the Torch Keeper Series, The Culling. It has all of the fast paced, tension packed, page-turning feel of the post-apocalyptic genre, but with the close to character feel of a truly satisfying read. The Culling asks big unthinkable questions. Should you have to choose between the people you love? And if you had to, who would you choose? The hero of the book, Lucian Sparks does everything he can to protect his little brother, Cole, from the brutality of the Establishment's recruitment practice where five citizens are chosen to undergo violent and extreme trials in order to save their 'incentives,' two loved ones that are held hostage and sacrificed one at a time until just one recruit is left standing. Steven doesn't pull punches with either the trials or the decisions. He makes us love each character and then watch as they are forced into grotesque competitions and imposssible choices. The Culling is dark, but not without light. The underlying theme is that love survives everything. the Establishment may be able to force the recruits to compete to the death (of their loved ones), but they can't take away their humanity. This makes the Culling a must read.
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Wow. I was barely able to put this book down. After the first few pages I was completely hooked. It's entertaining, and incredibly disturbing all at once. The way that Dos Santos unfolded the Establishments sick and twisted game of recruiting teenagers into their elite military force left me breathless. The idea of taking two loved ones as incentives that you would have to eventually choose which lives and which dies (and How) if you fail a trial blew my mind. Who would your incentives be? how would you choose? Dos Santos created in depth back sorties on every recruit making you root for each character to advance in the trials. The hint of a love story between Lucky and Digory filled my heart and made it sink into my chest at the same time. Knowing that only one recruit can be the winner, I was in agony wondering which of the recruits would make it through and who would be "Shelved". This is a page turner. If this was merely a good read, I would have given it 4 stars, but they say great art leaves you changed after you experience it... and this book definitely did that. Steven Dos Santos has, with one amazing work, propelled himself onto my top shelf.
Without spoiling, I will tell you that once you get to Part III, I'd grab a box of tissues...you'll need them.

Amazon, when can I preorder book 2???
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