The Electric Kingdom by David Almond

Gaze upon this glorious cover! Enlarge it. Look at it’s detail. Siiiiggghhhh!

I loved this novel. Loved it! It is thoroughly weird, beautifully written and I’m going to miss spending time with these characters now that I’m done. I read it slowly, savouring it. I found it moving and so incredibly sad at times, but it is a novel with such a big heart that I also laughed at other times.

This is post-apocalyptic fiction at its very best. At times you aren’t quite sure what you’re reading, but this is a quest book, trust the author, he is going to bend your mind and break your heart. Nico is wonderful, a character I just totally loved. When she meets a group of kids who have a history that ties them together, you just know that this is going to be a wonderful lot of relationships. Kit, my heart belongs to Kit, a treasure of a character. A ragtag group of kids facing danger, trying to survive a pandemic, killer flies who carry people off by sheer numbers lifting them up and carrying them away. It is horrific! I love the use of cinnamon as a deterrent to the flies.

There is so much, so very many ways that this book is amazing. It confirms that David Almond is one of my favourite authors for young people.

Thanks so much to Text for giving me access to this wonderful book. I loved it.

Vox by Christina Dalcher

About quarter of the way into this I wondered if I could continue. The grimness was relentless, then I decided that the women were absolutely going to have to fight back. The way that they do it is extreme and gritty and downright nasty, but when you have been taken over, reduced to little more than a puppet, you’ve got to take action. Extreme action.

The very idea of silencing women, encircling their wrists with a bracelet which gives them a shock when they reach their limit of 100 words in a day is diabolical. To do it to baby girls is even worse, it means they can never learn to speak properly or express their feelings or wishes. Exactly what the President of the United States depicted in the novel, is after. There are a few moments of ‘what the?’ in this book. The power of the president to institute this much change over a tiny timeframe is not particularly realistic, however those of us who have watched and read The Handmaid’s Tale and felt the fear it induced will not be surprised that this could happen. It is terrifying and makes you understand how difficult it would be to stand up to the kind of indoctrination that ensues.

This would be an awesome book for a study alongside The Handmaid’s Tale. The science is interesting and the terror you feel at how easy it could be to use the cure for disease in reverse is very real.

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

This book is fabulous. Fabulous! 

I’ve been talking about it to anybody who will listen since I started it. Then I was eking it out so that it lasted longer. And now I don’t even know where to start to write about it. It is being marketed as being YA, but I’d argue that it is for anybody. 

The girls of the County are sent away for a year, into a fenced area in the wilderness. On their return, bedraggled, broken, injured and unable to talk of their experiences, they never speak of their time away on The Grace Year. Before they even head away they are chosen as brides by the eligible men of the village. This includes those who have found an excuse to get rid of their loyal wives on feeble excuses to get at one of the new crop of eligible new brides. It is the beginning of the horror of this story. It is going to get way more uncomfortable! 

Tierney our heroine is plucky and sharp. The other girls don’t like her, they are suspicious of her for many reasons but partly because she is friends with Michael, who chooses her in the betrothal ceremony and also because her father has set her up by teaching her practical skills, these are skills none of the other girls have. They have been trained to serve and kowtow to the men, not Tierney, she’s a fighter. As they head into the awfulness of the Grace Year she is going to need every tiny scrap of her feistiness. 

There is so much in this book. It requires a certain amount of grit to cope with its horror. Tierney is so awesome. There are so many favourite moments in this book, she finds seeds sewn lovingly into her cloak, the love scene, the fearsome way she deals with the psychological persecution of the awful mean girls and their terrible leader. 

If you like a dystopian fiction this is going to make you very very happy. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me access to this great novel.