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The Wolf Road - Beth Lewis
Only Ever Yours - Louise O'Neill
His Bloody Project - Graeme Macrae Burnet
A House Without Windows - Nadia Hashimi
The Mandibles - Lionel Shriver


You know that bit when you were reading Cormac McCarthy's The Road and you thought, you know, I would be enjoying this book a lot more if it featured women and apostrophes?

Um, that may just have been me...

Anyway, The Wolf Road is really good. It's set post-apocalypse (the cold war turned hot) in which a young woman discovers the mysterious man who raised her is a serial killer, and goes on the run pursued by her past, a frontier lawman (law-woman?), and a semi-tame wolf. Along the way she rescues another young woman from dystopian sex-traffickers and discovers the meaning of friendship. So, yeah, this book is pretty much catered exactly for my id, and I really loved it a lot. Also, it's properly punctuated, so that's good too.

I got only Ever Yours as a job lot with Asking For It, like, a year ago, and then didn't read it because Asking For It fucked me up so much. While that one was a contemporary YA about the aftermath of a gang rape, this one was a dystopia where women (called Eves) are designed from scratch and raised to be either wives or concubines. It's like the world's most horrifying boarding school story. And as a straight dystopia it doesn't quite work, there are too many holes in it; the idea that female infanticide would reach such levels that women would simply stop conceiving female children is not how biology works, especially not over the course of a generation or three. But as a parable about how society treats teenage girls, and encourages them to treat themselves, it really does work.

So, yeah, whatever it loses for ill-thought out worldbuilding, it more than makes up in will-fuck-you-up-ness.

His Bloody Project is about a murder in a 19th century Highland crofting community, and if you like faux discovered historical documents and unreliable narrators this might just be for you.

A House Without Windows is set in Afghanistan, about a woman accused of the murder of her husband and the Afghan-American lawyer fighting to free her. And that plot was fine, but much more compelling to me were the scenes set inside the women's prison, where more than half the women were locked up for 'morality' crimes, and some of them had been turned in by their own families to keep them safe from so called honour killings. I really must find a book about that to read.

I read The Mandibles and holy mixed feelings, Batman! The first three quarters of it I really liked; it was set in 2029 and all about the catastrophic implosion of the US economy. Economic dystopias are fast becoming my favourites; I think because the best ones speak to what we're afraid of, and while I'm not afraid of nuclear winter, I am afraid of having to work till I'm almost ninety caring for people only a little older than myself.

But then the last hundred pages skipped another ten years into the future after there had been a partial recovery, and holy mackerel, did I change my tune. The problems I had with it were threefold:

-Firstly, I think it's safe to say that Lionel Shriver disagree on basically everything to do with taxation and redistribution of wealth. The part I found most objectionable was the idea that caring for the elderly and vulnerable is only worthwhile if it's on an individual charitable basis, and society wide safety nets are what's going to doom us all. Oh, fuck off.

-Secondly, Shriver's obvious self-insert character, who had been fun up to that point, saved the day and lived to one hundred and three. Ugh.

-And thirdly, in the flash forward people have to have a chip implanted under their skin to use like a credit card; and there's a really gross and overwrought comparison between that procedure and sexual assault. And, like, that's one of my hard no's in fiction. You know what's like being raped? Being raped, and literally nothing else. I'm not saying that other experiences can't be as bad or even worse, I'm just saying that those experiences should find their own word.

So, yeah, Lionel Shriver? Start and stop at We Need to Talk About Kevin.

As for what I'm going to read next... my TBR is looking a little listless. Anyone read any good books lately?
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