Taber, Deb. Necessary Ill. Aqueduct. Mar. 2013. 348p. ISBN 9781619760226. pap. $20. SF
The world of men and women, gendered humans, is out of control. Overpopulation and wasted resources portend an environmental collapse. Jin and other nongendered humans, or neuters, take it upon themselves to spread viruses intended to cull the human race. When Sandy, a young woman who has lived with hardship and brutality, encounters Jin and its fellow neuters and joins them in their secret enclave deep in the Carlsbad Caverns, the scene is set for a new way of life for humankind, gendered and nongendered alike. VERDICT Taber’s debut novel presents an all-too-credible dystopic future world and, in Jin, a complex character whose mind approaches the world and its priorities in a very different way. The characterization of truly genderless individuals—not androgynes or hermaphrodites—and the portrayal of an approach to the world that is both ruthless and compassionate make this an excellent candidate for book discussion groups and provide strong evidence for the availability of significant genre literature. Highly recommended.