#NGEW2019, Book Reviews, Domestic Noir/Thriller, Dystopian/Near Future Fiction, Fiction, Women's Fiction-Interests, Young Adult

The Grace Year @Kim_Liggett

This summer has been the season of feminist books for me and I have loved each and every one of them! Adding to the latest feminist reads is The Grace Year by Kim Liggett. I have to admit that it was labeled as a “young adult” book but everything about this book is geared toward women of all ages. It is phenomenal!

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In this dystopian novel, the women live very subjugated lives along side men who rule with an iron fist. They are not allowed to gather and talk with one another in public, not allowed to hum or sing believing that they are using their “magic” to seduce or trick men – because we all know that men are easily seduced or tricked. Yes, we do. When they sixteen years old, the girls are sent away to a camp far in the woods to survive on their own for a year in order to rid themselves of their “magic” and come back pure and ready for marriage. The woods surrounding them are filled with “poachers” who are waiting for the girls to make a wrong move so they can skin the women alive, capture their magic and sell it back to the men in the county. There are outcasts and usurpers and these girls know that they do not want to become either of those women. Only a few will survive their “grace year” and those who do never breathe a word about what transpires in the woods. Until now. Tierney is determined to survive this year and prove there is no magic at all. As the girls become more insane and more of them are dying and being killed by the poachers, Tierney is targeted as one who much be cast out. SurvivalΒ  becomes her only goal – will she succeed?

The Grace Year has been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power but in all truthfulness I found The Grace Year far more interesting and realistic. We live in a world where women who once were gaining ground, marching on the road to equality, suddenly find themselves at the mercy of very angry, emphasis on very, men. Not just in the US but in so many countries all over the world. We now are marching backward with no say over our own bodies, no say over the world in which we live as we watch strong, intelligent women being mocked by those with half of their intellect. We are, literally, just shy of the ignorance that the males portray in The Grace Year. Sadly, we women are allowing this to happen without whimper.

However, what I found most refreshing was the end of this book. Without giving away what transpires, the women who were raging against one another form a bond. They begin making subtle changes to themselves and toward their group as a whole. They discover that there are men in their county who are willing to stand up for them, who help them and those who have been outcast. While the story itself is extremely dark, horrifically brutal – this really is a story of hope. If only we, as women, could or would bond together as a whole, stop tearing one another down, just imagine the power that we would have and the good that we could do for the world. That is the essence of this book: Hope.

This is a long-ish book and I thought, at first, that perhaps it needed editing to make it more palatable to those who no longer read longish books. However, there is nothing to edit. This book is perfect as it and well worth the time it takes to read it. In fact, I stayed up all night to finish it because I had to know the ending. It was beautiful! If you do not read another book this year, I encourage you to read The Grace Year and then follow it up with Athena’s Choice by Adam Boostrom. We’ll make a good feminist out of you yet.

My thanks goes out to #netgalley, @WednesdayBooks @StMartinsPress and #KimLiggett for allowing me to read and review this incredible book on sale October 8, 2019.

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Dystopian/Near Future Fiction, Science and Climate Fiction

Sunlight 24 @merritt_graves

A genre that I’ve lately found intriguing is “near-future” fiction. It’s not always dystopian in nature, nor does it fall into the realm of sci-fi, or perhaps it does. Regardless, I like books that take an event or scenario happening currently and run it to its natural conclusion. If you think about it, that is basically what Orwell did with 1984, or was done in Brave New World. The authors viewed the effects of the Industrial Revolution and allowed their imagination to see the ultimate end-game: and they were too accurate for comfort. Sunlight 24, a young adult/new adult thriller, does exactly this using nanotechnology and gene splicing as well nootropic supplements and their effects on the human brain. (see this link if you are not familiar with nootropics)

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Sunlight 24 is a fast paced, roller coaster ride and one heckuva a great read! Set in the near future, in a world where the climate and robots have completely altered the daily lives of humans, man has found ways of making themselves less redundant: Revision. Simply put, they are altering their DNA using gene therapy, nano-bots and nootropics to make themselves faster, stronger, and definitely smarter. The drawback is that only the most wealthy can afford these “revisions,” creating a world where the haves and have-nots are clearly separated with only the “haves” succeeding. Enter Dorian whose family is barely getting by and cannot afford revision. Without revision, Dorian cannot get into a good university and without a degree in Nano-technology, he will be shackled forever by his limitations. But, Dorian has a plan to steal from the wealthy in order to afford smaller increments of revision. Each revision influences his next choice of revision until, ultimately, he realizes he is losing a bit of his own self, what makes him Dorian. He also does not suspect that his brother, a psychopath, is doing the same revisions as Dorian, also funded by nefarious means. The ultimate conclusion is explosive – literally – as well an eye opening look at the monster we are creating.

Merritt Graves, author of the cult thriller “Lake of Mars,” has created a brilliant look at the future where genetic mutation and nootropics rule the day. As someone who already takes nootropic drugs, I found the ultimate conclusion of this book to be frightening as well as enlightening. In the end, I was questioning what we already are doing, what we could do and what will remain of our own humanity when we do. If this sounds confusing, it isn’t really. Graves is a masterful story teller and, although the tale became a little over the top toward the end, Graves deftly keeps the story on track to its horrifying conclusion.

Admittedly, the book is a little too long and could use a good bit of editing. There were times when I felt parts of the story weren’t necessary to the overall story-line. It also helps to remember that this is told from a high-schooler’s point of view because it is a young adult thriller. As such, you aren’t going to get the thoughts and concerns of the parents, teachers, scientists, etc. This is, ultimately, Dorian’s story and is told from his point of view only. That didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book in the least and I heartily recommend it for those who enjoy this type of genre.

Thank you to #Netgalley #merrittgraves for my copy of Sunlight 24.

 

Serendipitous Sunday, Young Adult

Angels Can’t Swim – a novella

Sundays

I don’t often read books from first time authors who are not represented by a publishing company; however, lately I have found that many of these books – while a bit more roughly edited – are like finding diamonds in the rough. Angels Can’t Swim is a perfect example!

Angels Can't Swim[997]

There are three girls, competitive swimmers, each holding secrets inside of them that have the potential to destroy their swimming careers and, ultimately, their lives. As the novella unfolds, we learn about each of the girls: their passions, their fears, their innermost thoughts and feelings.

One is beautiful, talented but holding back in the pool because of her secret.

One is gay, barely out of the closet and not yet comfortable in her own skin.

One is seemingly “perfect,” not the best swimmer on the team but the one who appears to have her act together.

However, before the book is finished each of these girls must confront a pregnancy, bulimia and rape.

In a very straight forward account of these three girls, you will become engrossed in their stories. There was a part of me, the editor/proofreader in me, that wanted to edit the writing, but then I realized that this very blunt, unvarnished account is what makes this story so compelling – and it is very gripping. Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother of diver who competed with the US Olympic Diving team, but these stories were so real that I simply could not put it down. From start to finish, which only too a few hours, I never once stopped reading!

The author was a competitive swimmer and she writes as only someone who has been there/done that, can do. I suspect that she personally knew girls who experienced each of these things and I hope that they, too, came out on the other side as a whole and not in pieces. Sadly, I watched too many female divers who did not.

Angels Can’t Swim is not just for athletes, although their lives never are as wonderful as you would think. It is for women of all ages who struggle with self-perception. However, it is specially written for young women who need to know, absolutely should know, that always are people who are willing to help, listen and care. This book affected me deeply and I encourage all women to read it. Again, it is short, only 100 pages, and each page is well worth your read.

I’m giving it 4 stars simply because it did need editing – the story, however, is a solid 5+ stars! You can find this book now at Amazon.Β Angles Can’t Swim at AmazonΒ  My appreciation to Alexandra McCann, the author, for sharing this book with me.