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Search tags: dystopian-post-apoc
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review 2018-01-16 22:44
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1) - Meg Elison

This book hit just the right note with me at just the right time. It was one of those rare books that made me want to drop everything I was doing just so I could read - in fact, I finished this book in my car after work because I couldn't wait until I got home to read the last ten pages. So yeah, it was that kind of a read for me. That said I can see this book not being to everyone's liking. It has the same sort of grim and violent outlook you find in something like the Walking Dead, which will put a lot of people off. This is not a feel good story. There is a lot of graphic sexual violence depicted, so know that going in.

 

At its core I read this as a book about gender roles and sexuality. With the world's population drastically reduced, women a rarity, and pregnancy a dangerous and fruitless prospect, how does that effect the way we behave? How does this free people, sometimes in very dark ways, and how does it bind them? With a cultural breakdown, and women so vastly outnumbered, humans become sexually "liberated" in the way other mammals are liberated - with no social constructs this changes the dynamic. Some men use this as an excuse to rape and hold women as property. Some women use this as a way to collect harems, trading sex for protection. Some people feel free to choose their partners as they see fit without the societal judgement they might have previously experienced. Some people hide their gender in order to walk through the world unhindered. It's an interesting meditation on how the human animal might adjust gender roles, sexuality, and morality if society, balance, and pregnancy are removed from the equation.

 

In addition to having some interesting themes to chew on I quite liked the character and world building. All the characters felt distinct from one another, and their voices felt unique. The representation of bisexuality was some of the best I've ever read, and I really appreciated that as well. The world felt both real and terrifying, the feeling of constant threat looming in every encounter. This book scared me in the same way as White Horse by Alex Adams, or Children of Men. At the same time it had some hope and beauty sprinkled in (sparingly), to offset the horror of the world. For me it was meditative, haunting, frightening, and a little empowering.

 

If you're looking for a great read about the end of the world with a feminist bent this is a rare jewel. If grim futures, violence, or sexual trauma put you off of a read don't pick this one up. For me the food for thought far outweighed any of the ugliness.

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review 2017-08-08 23:09
The End We Start From: Or, a meditation on motherhood and loss
The End We Start From - Megan Hunter

This novella was a lovely surprise. I was initially drawn in by the stunning cover, and I'm so glad I gave it a chance. Written in a spare and poetic style reading this story is more like following a wandering stream than being tossed into the roaring ocean which features heavily in the narrative. The events of the plot are often suggested more than they are described as you meander through the main character's interior landscape just as much as you do the exterior world. If you're unaccustomed to reading poetry then Hunter's prose may stretch your comfort levels, but it will be worth the effort.

 

This is an elegy. Filled with a sort of wistfulness that feels earned rather than melodramatic. These are observations about the small moments that could so easily get lost in the din, the tiny things that ultimately matter even if the world is ending. It is unflinchingly human. And while the plot takes its cues from science fiction, at its core this is a meditation on motherhood and loss. Simply put: it is beautiful.

 

Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read an advanced copy. The End We Start From will be released in November.

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review 2016-05-19 06:41
Elysium: Losing someone feels like the end of the world
Elysium - Jennifer Marie Brissett

I really don't know how to write this review. To be truthful I wasn't excited to read this book, mostly because of the cover. Imagine my surprise when this became one of my favorite reads of the year. Elysium is complex, nuanced, and really needs to be read rather than explained. This is one of those rare reads wherein as soon as I finished it I immediately wanted to press it into the hands of everyone around me. To say this book is science fiction, or a post-apocalyptic tale, is to drastically reduce the essence of this story. This is one of those gems with a strong enough emotional center that most readers, genre lovers or not, could find something of value within its pages.

At its heart this is a story about two people who love each other. The relationship and circumstances might change from chapter to chapter, but this basic truth carries through. They might be a husband and wife, a gay couple, siblings, a parent and child, it doesn't matter. The bond is what is important, even as the story skips through time and setting. It's the sort of book that by all rights should be confusing as hell, yet I never had trouble following along (which speaks to Brissett's craft). The prose is lyrical, even poetic, and the repeating motifs and linguistic tricks are evocative rather than repetitive or tiring. The beauty of this story, and the way it is told, cannot be undersold. This is a book about love, loss, and the end of the world. And I really hope you take a chance and pick this one up - I'm so glad I did.

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review 2015-12-24 06:53
Animal Farm
Animal Farm - George Orwell,C.M. Woodhouse,Russell Baker

Super short review:

 

It's weird reading classics like this one as an adult when many people read them in High School or younger. I'm glad I read it. I get what Orwell was doing. I appreciated the social commentary/satire presented in a fairy tale format. And it's interesting, now that I've read this, to notice how this work is referenced in current pop culture. All in all I found it simplistic and predictable, though had I read it earlier in my life I think I would have found it more interesting.

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review 2015-06-25 04:32
Requiem: Book 3 of the Delirium Trilogy
Requiem - Lauren Oliver

This book, even this trilogy as a whole, has thrown me for a loop. The story that the trilogy seemed to be telling shifted from book to book, and sadly the series ends with a strong focus on a love triangle and our heroine feeling sorry for herself for the bulk of the pages. It's not the story I expected, and it wasn't the fun sort of surprise. I'm baffled that this is where this series ended up.

 

There are two POVs in this book, which helped turn pages and keep things moving despite uneven plotting. Throughout most of the book I found myself so turned off by Lena and her story that most of my enjoyment came from Hana's sections. Not only did Hana bring us back into the dystopian world and out of the woods, where Lena's sections take place, but she also brought us the POV of someone who was cured.

 

Oliver's writing remains well crafted, but in the end this wasn't a satisfying end to a promising series. Heck, the book even ended mid-action with very little resolved. I'm not usually a fan of epilogues but this book would have been well served by one. All in all an uneven series and an uneven book. Sad to say it given how much I've loved some of Lauren Oliver's other books.

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