After the Great Famine, the world was divided into different domes with each dome focused on one aspect of survival for the world.They are so focused that anyone trying to do anything else, anything considered unproductive (i.e. the arts) is exiled to the barren wastelands. Dara has grown up in the dome dedicated to engineering and has risen to the top three of her graduating class. She is given the chance of becoming assistant to Head Engineer Anderson, but competition is cutthroat. Still Dara only has eyes on becoming an effective Contributor to Magnum, one of the great Job Creators, the sole authority of her dome. That is, until she finds a group of people who want more out of life than what the Creators want.
I do not have the best history with dystopian books with strong female leads; after a while they kinda all sound the same. Fortunately I found Contributor to be pleasantly different. To start with, we have a main character who, while sometimes naively good, has full belief in the system and wants nothing more than to Contribute and, perhaps, marry her boyfriend so that they can be great Contributors together. She has no thoughts of the system being imperfect. She has no notion of anything other than the Magnum and her reputation therein.
Another difference, one that I so greatly appreciate, is that when she is introduced to concepts outside of what she knows, she doesn't immediately take up the cause. She is aware of this new aspect of the world, would enjoy partaking in some of their books, but she takes a realistic amount of time and experience to finally come around to wanting to help them. This isn't an immediate rally around one person to start the revolution. This is her getting to the place, mentally, where she can help the people who actually need help.
Best of all is HOW she helps. I get so tired of teenage protagonists acting as though the adults are just lazy or complacent and need someone to inspire them to action. In Contributor, information is what is vital. Dara has trusted adults and higher ups all her life, naturally she trusts them to know more than her. So she helps with information. Not with guts, not with promises of glory or inspiring speeches, information.
I have added the next book to my TBR list because I am very interested to see how Ciarcchella takes this. I have my theories and I need them confirmed. If you are at all interested in a different kind of dystopian story with a strong female lead, I highly recommend Contributor.