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The Cost of Living

Narrated by: Brenda Scott Wlazlo
Length: 1 hr and 46 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (22 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A life for a life. No one need die until someone new is born. Then you've no choice.

This novella will take the listener to a dystopian future - a world of adults where birthmothers are a privileged class and every child is a celebrity. Death has been conquered, but overcrowding has led to a government-enforced zero population growth. When Janice learns she is pregnant without authorization, she must find a life donor or forfeit her own. For every child born, someone must die. The math is simple, but the politics are complicated. Janice soon finds herself diving into a deep conspiracy. 

For those who love The Handmaid's Tale, this is another take on what the future may hold.

©2018 Marla L. Anderson (P)2018 Marla L. Anderson

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Janice's Run

This story takes place in a dystopian future where population control is enforced by an elite group of people. Not a very uncommon plot line for dystopian stories. Within this future there are different classes of people who have different levels of freedom from the next class. Life is good for those who have a priority code A pass. Sometimes people may be willing to trade their life for another’s if they are able to live the good life of a priority code A recipient for a few months.

The story is told over a six-month period and moves along quite fast. The plot feels familiar and borrows from a few different ones to form a nice well-rounded story. I think the length was perfect, even though, this world could have easily been expanded upon for a full novel. The two main characters were quite interesting and well rounded. They kept you on your toes wondering what was going to happen next, especially since they were polar opposites. The ending really comes out strong. Definitely worth a listen.

Wlazlo has a nice voice and did a good job telling this story. Her cadence and pacing are spot on and I enjoyed her character voices. She really brought the story to life.

I was voluntarily provided this free review copy audiobook by the author, narrator, or publisher.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Scifi dystopia in the vein of PKD

'The Cost of Living' is a dystopia in a similar vein to some of the stories of Philip K Dick, or classic movies like Logan's Run or Soylent Green (or less classic movies like Justin Tinberlake's In Time).

Set in a dystopia future the population limit has been set, and if you want to have a baby approval for an increase in population must be given, or someone must die for the baby to live. When Janice get accidentally pregnant she must find a life donor, or forfeit her own life in place of her baby. when an old man offers to be her life donor, she gets more than she bargained for in the deal.

The story is quick and tightly told. There is a lot more going on in this world that could have supported a longer book, but rather than give you everything this short story gives you just what you need. It is well told, with some interesting ideas and backstory. Well worth the time.

Narration by Brenda Scott Wlazlo is very good. Well paced and clear. For a short story she really shines, providing a wide variety of voices, characters, emotions etc. She brings the book to life.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this review voluntarily.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Excellent!

Very interesting and thoughtful story about what life would be like if the population number was meant to remain the same - so, if a child is born, another person must die to keep the numbers in check.
So... what happens if there's an accident, and you get preggo without permission?
Well.... someone must die for the baby to live.

Very interesting concept and story.
Well written, well narrated, really enjoyed it. :)

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
Please take a moment to click the "YES" ("Helpful") button below if you found this review helpful :) Thank you!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dee
  • LA
  • 01-19-19

More please!!

I knew this was a novella but I wasn't prepared for loving it so much that I didn't want it to end. The world development was incredible! Dystopian worlds when well-done are a special treat. This was sorbet in the heart of the Sahara desert.

That ending absolutely blew me away!!! It ended too soon. I wanted more.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Cost of Living

Fantastic!

I was mesmerized by this dystopian future where over population is controlled by exchanging a life for every new life. The twist at the end was awesome!

I was very impressed with this story by Maria L. Anderson, and I looks forward to seeing more from her.

This was the first narration by Brenda Scott Wlazlo that I’ve listened to, and it won’t be the last.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and I have voluntarily left this review.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I read this twice in one day.

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. The narration by Brenda Scott Wlazlo complimented the story. The slow ebb and flow of the accounts fit well with the dystopian nature of the material.
The story was well written and, after finishing it, I wanted to re-read as I understood the characters better. I'm glad that I requested a free copy from the author with the promise of a review, for now I have another author in my list of favorites. My only disappointment was how short the story was. I hope that there will be opportunities to read some other creations from Marla Anderson that will deliver a little deeper in character and story development.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • timj26
  • ontario canada
  • 01-26-19

Good narrator

Interesting Take on the overpopulation Problem
A quick read with potential For a second book
I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily Left this review

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • KD
  • Somewhere
  • 03-22-19

remind me of classic sci fi

really enjoyed this, reminded me of the old sci fi books i used to read. Great content.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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A Life for a Life

A life for a life.....that is the way of life in this dystopian tale. All pregnancies must be sanctioned by the government and for each baby born, another person must die. All of this was started years ago in order to get rid of problems caused by massive overpopulation.

When Janice somehow becomes pregnant without the proper authorization, she must try to find someone willing to "donate" their life. If not, her own life will be forfeit. Janice finds a willing donor through her friend, Franny. A man named Isaac Taylor agrees to be her donor with the stipulation that he can do whatever he wants for the next 6 months of his life. Since Janice has the highest clearance available, Isaac just wants to use it to do whatever he pleases.

Of course, there is more to this whole thing than the reader first believes. Janice begins to realize that members of the original "culling" committee are dying at a high rate due to accident. And, she begins to wonder who was really behind this whole situation.

The story was fast paced and the author did a great job in conveying the emotions of the characters. Once I started listening, I had to know what was going to happen! The narrator did a wonderful job and added a lot to the book. All in all, this was a very enjoyable book. If you enjoy the dystopian genre, give this short work a try. You won't be disappointed!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Short and Sweet

Tight and well woven. Great take on a dystopian society. Loved it.


I received a free review audiobook and voluntarily Left this review

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Norma Miles
  • Norma Miles
  • 01-27-19

The most precious of human resources

In a dystopian future less than 200 years hence, the loss of much of the earth's livable land mass combined with rising population levels, had forced a world-wide no growth limit on numbers. No further child can be born without an equalizing death. Consequently, when Janice, against fantastic odds, finds herself pregnant she is not only horrified, but terrified. If she cannot find a 'donor's willing to sacrifice his or her own life, then the birth of her baby will be a death sentence.

The basic story concept, though not entirely new, is a good one and the plot line includes betrayal and conspiracy. But although I enjoyed this tight plotted novella, the actual world setting just did not seem sufficiently well conceived. Although the general population might be very long lived, they are not immortal and fatalities of various kinds must occur on a very regular basis (including murder where there is potential for two or more population openings since the sentence for the killer is automatic donorship.) In so close pressed a living situation, anger and violence must have been a near constant companions to almost everyone. Also, in a world so unwilling for new lives to be born (Only 170 children worldwide at the time in which the book is set - and a very foolish notion to so fiercely limit birth of new people if there is an actual wish for any a population in the future), why would birth mother's be given political power privileges? This reader felt side tracked by these, and other, speculations which rather interfered with the overall premise of the book.

That being said, it was an enjoyable thriller, the solution dropped like bread crumbs for the reader to find along the way. The narration was fine, the book read with clarity and a certain emotion, the individual protagonists given personal voices. I was fortunate in being freely gifted a complimentary copy of The Cost of Living by the rights holder, at my request via Audiobook Boom. Thank you. It is a book which will certainly appeal to many future dystopian readers: it is, after all, an intriguing idea.