If I had read this when it was first published, in the 80s, I think I would have really liked this book. Alas, I read it now and it mostly made me angry.
This book channels second wave feminism pretty heartily, and unfortunately it also falls into some of the movement's pitfalls. Powerfully negative attitudes towards men lie the foundation for this story - an idea that men are innately violent and aggressive, and women are not, is the true dividing line. This book pretends that personality is based purely on nature with nurture making little difference. Bodily autonomy and emotional connectivity fall to the wayside in favor of eugenics and manipulation. And to make it even worse the lack of gender non-conforming or non-heterosexual individuals in this world is not an oversight - the book flat out states that queer characters were bred out (see page 76 in my edition). To say that the story is misandrist, gender essentialist, and aggressively heteronormative would not be inaccurate nor unfair.
As much as I wanted to throw this book across my room at times, or to give it a half star rating, I will give it some credit where credit is due. This book is of its time, and it came from an angry place. And I get that. I've felt that. A lot of people have. It is interesting to use science fiction to play around with thought experiments, and our book club had an excellent discussion about this one. Tepper quite obviously put a lot of thought into her world, and the world-building was fairly intricate. The characters were drawn well enough that I truly hated many of them, and some mirrored individuals I've known in my past. There are some really excellent insights in here, and even passages that I reread because they struck a chord with me. However, I just couldn't get past the politics. It's a great book to talk about and critique, but it is not a book I feel I can recommend outside of that capacity.
I have a YA dark fantasy debut coming out this summer and it's currently competing in Kindle Scout. If you go to https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/E9IM6GHX3YIJ and nominate it and it wins, Amazon will send you a free preview copy before it releases to the general public!
So if you're at all interested in the book (or just want to help a newbie out!) please vote. :)
A little more on Kindle Scout:
So if you want a chance to get a free copy of BTE, head on over to the Kindle Scout website, nominate it and hope it wins! And hey, why not vote for some other faves while you’re at it? You get up to three nominations at a time.
A little more about Blind the Eyes:
In a world where hope kills and dreams are deadly, obedience is the only way to survive. But when one girl learns her society's absolute control and guarantee of safety are both illusions, she risks her hard-won status, her home and her life to rebel and expose its lies.
A YA dark fantasy about identity, trauma & taking back your choices. Ghosts and world monsters in post-eco-disaster Vancouver.
From the back cover:
In the Towers of Refuge, regulation dictates every aspect of life.
Haunted 17-year-old Cole would do anything to shake her reputation as a failure. The only way to survive the nightmarish Mara is absolute obedience, and she's down to her last chance.
But when a charismatic stranger shows up claiming to know her and Cole discovers Refuge's absolute control and guarantee of safety are both illusions, she realizes hers isn't the only life at stake and goes on the run.
In the underground club Freedom, nothing's forbidden.
Cole needs allies to help her expose Refuge's lies and escape execution by nightmare. Too bad the only candidates are a hedonistic rebel, a childish ghost, a stylist with a secret and an imaginary friend with a talent for monster-hunting.
With enforcers in pursuit and the dead invading her dreams, Cole must figure out who to trust and stop the dying before the nightmares eat her alive.
Trusted authorities lie, allies have their own agendas, and even the monsters wear masks in this YA dark fantasy suitable for ages 14 and up. Ebook, audiobook and print editions coming in late spring 2018. Subscribe at https://kaie.space/newsletter for exclusive previews and extended content.