The Book of Flora by Meg Elison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a worthy successor to the previous two that began with The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, but it DOES require some managed expectations.
The book is not plotted traditionally. Rather, it reads from the past and present in equal measure and really focuses on the full gamut of gender issues. And I don't mean just men and women but all states of transformation and gender identity.
And it does it in the bleak and dismal post-apocalyptic world that Elison killed us within the first of the trilogy.
Let's back up. Most women are treated like breeding machines, as sub-human, in this world where very few babies are born and women become rare. In the previous book we explored a pretty cool revolution and the reality of Horse Women, or men who are cut to become women-surrogates for the rest of the brutish Man.
This one continues a further exploration of those ideas and develops them carefully. We get friendships and survival and even a fair portion of humor. The bleak world still exists, of course, but there are some interesting cultural modifications and stranger (possibly) biological oddities.
What would our world become if there were no more women? Well, we read this from the PoV's of alternative-gendered people who might, in another world, still be considered women, so all we have is a hard world to swallow.
This is a very hardcore dystopia.
There is blood and horror. But the books are NOT about that. N0t primarily. Look elsewhere for that. Instead, if you want a genuine thought experiment about an utterly transformed world without women (or where women are turned into slaves as a matter of course and then get used up and we can SEE the beginnings of the end of the human race) then look no further. This book is great for this.
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