The Book of Etta by Meg Elison
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!
The first book in the Road to Nowhere series hit me out of nowhere with it's stark and uncompromising view of humanity and the inhumanity of men toward women when a plague decimated (literally) the population of women. There's only one woman out of ten men across the world. It reads much more delightfully than Frank Herbert's The White Plague and it has a much more grimdark feel than even The Children of Men.
The second picks up and drives home the same point with a brand new twist: gender issues figure very strongly, but it's much more than just women being subjugated by men. This book takes gender identity and explores many very cool twists and shows it off starkly in this dystopian world.
No spoilers, but we get a lot of different gender identities and they're all showcased in ways that even surprised me.
Is this a survival novel? Absolutely. Is it as difficult as only cruel-literature can be? Absolutely. These stories aren't for the weak of heart and some people might get overwhelmed by just how evil men can be, but we're meant to see this all in a stark spotlight.
This might not be a big surprise, but the main character Eddy/Etta pretends to be a man on the road while being a heroic raider who kills slavers to free women, while being what her culture requires her to be when she returns to her home, Nowhere. It's very much like a Shakespearian play where the only way to get ahead is to pretend. But this is only where the novel starts. It ends up having traveled all across the map by the end and I was very impressed. :)
AGAIN, this is not for the faint of heart. It's dystopian in almost every way, but there is a fine balance of hope. :)
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