This eARC was provided through NetGalley from Berkley Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review.
This novel was one of my most anticipated summer debuts and I was very excited to see that my request was granted!
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
– Edmund Burke
Dr. Gianna “Jean” McClellen is a woman in futuristic America, where all females are required to wear a counter that keeps track of how many words they use per day, with a maximum quota of 100 words. If the quota is exceeded, the woman is electrocuted. All females, no matter their ages, are to wear these counters as part of their expectancy of submission to the male species. Women are expected to docile, domestic, obey their husbands, and to be seen but not heard. Female children are being conditioned not to speak. This is the regime of the Pure Movement, a take over by extremely religious political leaders that were voted into office.
The movement is still experiencing it’s difficulties in it’s fledgling year, but the children and men are falling right in line. Those in support wear pins with a “P” for Pure. Males are only allowed to control the flow of information- females may not receive or open mail, access the internet, or read books. Women may no longer write, and sign language or anything stated against the government is punishable if caught by surveillance. They may no longer be employed- strictly domestic care of their household only. They are no longer allowed to curse or use heated language against a man. They are not allowed to use birth control or abort pregnancies, and there is no fornication outside marriage- no underage sex, no adultery. Heterosexual marriage is the only legal marriage, and those who fall into different sexual categories, as well as those who don’t comply with the law, are imprisoned in labor camps or forced into cells with the opposite sex until the “straighten out” and “convert”.
Starting to sound a little like Germany circa 1939, right?
Jean recalls the time before the counter was attached to hers and her daughter’s wrist, with the echo of her activist college roommate asking, what will you do to stay free? But now, with four kids, she has to decide if the cost of freedom is worth it, and truly decide what she will sacrifice for their freedom.
I dove into this eARC and immediately thought it had serious A Handmaid’s Tale vibes, which I liked. The further I got into it, the more scientific and conspiracy-mystery it got, the more I loved it. I really enjoy dystopian literature, and this novel is entirely plausible- which is both angering, frightening, and shocking. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say there was more than one occasion where I gasped or my jaw dropped. Dalcher’s pacing is excellent, and the way she has woven the story line together keeps the reader turning the pages, guessing what will happen next, and completely absorbed. I honestly spent the last 30 pages of this book on the edge of my seat! A thrilling read and a chilling warning for adults that I will certainly purchase and recommend.