The Color of Rain
by Cori McCarthy
Running Press Kids
First line: "Of all the directions to be looking, I stare up."
Seventeen year old Rain White dreams of getting away from decrepit and dangerous Earth City. Her younger brother Walker is becoming "Touched" - more and more catatonic by the day, and the rest of their family has already been ripped away from them in this dystopian future. She hopes to get passage for her brother to mech space where there may be a cure for his debilitating condition. Clearly, Rain's only option is to become a space prostitute. Her best friend Lo convinces her to sell her virginity at a good price to a disgusting client, but when this plan falls through, she meets Johnny, a sexy space traveler, who offers her and her brother a spot on his ship... for a price.
Rain is horrified when she learns that Johnny's offer to buy her virginity is all a sham. He's actually a space pimp with a whole stable full of girls. Yes, he said he was interested in her body... but he never said it was specifically for himself. Her brother is cryogenically frozen and spends most of the book as a popsicle, as she struggles with psychopathic Johnny and his number one assistant, cyborg mech Ben.
Johnny casually takes Rain's virginity, and then downgrades her from "red" status - meaning only he can touch her - to blue, green and then yellow, as he allows fat slobby crewmembers to abuse her. Gradually, she and Ben reach out to each other, as they discover Johnny's secrets. Johnny is actually trading Touched colonists as slaves to mining colonies. Rain and Ben try to free them at a gambling colony run by Johnny's ex-girlfriend, but are foiled by Johnny's seemingly all-powerful reach.
Interestingly, Rain is fairly highly sexed herself. She finds Johnny attractive, and enjoys their time together, even as she recognizes that mech Ben is much more sensitive and ultimately, a better match. Even though she's only recently become sexually experienced, she's quickly able to turn off her feelings and provide a decent experience for her repulsive clients.
While marketed for fans of Across the Universe by Beth Revis, the space element is not as prevalent as one might think and this book might actually be a better match for mature readers who enjoy dark dystopian fantasies or readers looking for books about arranged marriages. Readers who liked Julia Karr's XVI about a dystopian world where all women over 16 are fare game for random men, or Suzanne Fisher Staple's Shabanu about a Pakistani girl doomed to an arranged marriage, or Pearl Abraham's The Romance Reader about a girl's escape from an arranged Hasidic Jewish marriage, will find much to appreciate in this gritty sci-fi dystopian novel about a girl's exchange of sexual power for freedom and family.
Across the Universe - Beth Revis
XVI - Julia Karr
Shabanu - Suzanne Fisher Staple
The Romance Reader - Pearl Abraham
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.