*AD – This book was gifted, but all opinions are my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
Dystopian Women’s Fiction
Before you even pick up this book, you should know that it comes with a lot of trigger warnings. Rape, violence, in particular violence against women. The first third of the book is particularly dark and after the first few pages, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue. But the writing is immensely submersive and compelling and I found the pages turning even though I wasn’t liking what I was reading on the page.
The thing is, you’re not meant to like what is happening on the page. Set in a dystopian future, this is the story of Anna, a young woman who gets kidnapped by a man named Will and becomes his possession. His to own, do what he will, to brand, like cattle.
There is something Handmaid Tale-esque about this novel. The loss of control women have over their lives and bodies in exchange for protection. It’s ok to be a possession because you are kept safe by your owner. As long of course if you do what you are told.
Smith has created a very dark world. The thing that makes it eerie, is that it is not too far away from the world we currently live in. What would happen if civilisation as we know it collapses? How would you survive? How would you behave? What would this new world look like? And yet the reality of this novel, is just that little bit too close, uncomfortable to our current lives. To make us think and question things that need to change right now.
Sammy Smith is a police officer and I think this comes across in the grittiness of the writing. The realism and darkness between the relationship between Anna and her abuser is chilling. Brutal and unrelenting.
The book is told in three parts covering Anna’s abuse to her escape and new life. The pace of the book is tense, fast and unsettling. After Anna’s escape, we watch her recovery and how the new world is rebuilding itself. I felt tense for a lot of the reading as I really couldn’t work out who were the good guys and who were the bad. Expecting betrayal at every turn.
The end of the book leaves quite a few things unresolved, so I hope there is more to come from Smith in this series. I would have like to have seen a little more depth into what the world looks like beyond what we have seen so far.
A dark, page-turning feminist read. Violent, misogynistic and at a times terribly bleak, this book is not for everyone. But it is one that will suck you in, leave you reeling, righteously angry, and tense right to that very last page.