Red Clocks by Leni Zumas – Book Review

Title: Red Clocks

Author: Leni Zumas

Rating: 5/5

Genre: Women’s Literature, Political Fiction, Dystopain Fiction


If you’re a fan of dystopian futures and corrupt political scandals, you’ll love Red Clocks. Over the last few months, this book kept reappearing on my Instagram feed (I’m there under a_commuters_bookshelf if you fancy a new book blog to follow) and I could see people comparing it to The Handmaids Tale and The Power. At this moment of time, I haven’t read The Power, but I had just finished the Margaret Atwood classic, so I was eager to read something that had so much praise.

So I loaded up my Kindle, and found it on Amazon.

And instantly I was hooked. zumas_redclocks

Set in a small Oregon town, Red Clocks follows the individual stories of four women. These women live in a world where abortion had recently become a criminal offense (with the idea that at the point of conception, a fetus is a human being, therefore abortion is now murder) and that girls would become jailed if they abort a pregnancy. A ‘Pink Wall’ divides America from abortion-friendly Canada, and crossing the border is, once again, a jailable offense. Also, IVF has recently been banned and that to adopt a child, you’d have to be heterosexual and married.

The reader navigates this new political landscape with four women. We get to see how they struggle and cope with individual issues that are raised with these draconian new law.

We get to see how teenage pregnancy would be navigated, or divorce, or people struggling to conceive naturally.

One of my favourite narrative strands to read was the one of Gin. Call her what you want; whether it be a white witch, a medicine woman or a hermit. But Gin uses natural remedies to fix maladies. She has been known to sort out STI’s, miscarriages, viruses and bruising. But she is also the person that people turn to for secret abortions. And thanks to her medical treatments, she gets subjected to a modern-day witch trial.

Zumas’ writing style really gripped me. It took me a while to get into it, as it was so energetic to read. But what she did with building this not-to-distant America was very subtle. She used each character to highlight certain aspects of how these laws would affect people, and soon a very detailed picture was built up how these laws came to be.

I also found the breakup of different voices good. The characters are given titles; ‘The Wife’, ‘The Biographer’, ‘The Daughter’ and ‘The Mender’ and inbetween these sections, we also get to read snippets of what The Biographer is working on – the account of an Icelandic woman called Eivor, who became one of the key experts on polar ice, but was largely forgotten. These biography chunks distract the reader from the brutalities of dystopian America, but remind us of how women have been oppressed over the years.

I think Red Clocks spoke to me because it was political without being too dry. The topics are very current, and it shows how simple law changes could really screw up what power women have over their own bodies.

I think this is a very important book to read. And so far, I’d consider it the best book I’ve read in 2018.

 

 

Clade by James Bradley – Book Review.

Title: Clade

Author: James Bradley

Rating: 3/5

Genre: Environmental, Dystopian Future, Sci-Fi, Fantasy


Note – after a three month hiatus, I’ve returned back to (hopefully) regular blogging. Apologies for such a long time. My Masters has finally finished!

So, as a few of you know, I get kindly sent books from Titan Publishing in order to read and review them a few weeks before publication. I get to pick and choice my books from a brief synopsis, which allows me to get excited about them before they arrive in the post.

About a month ago, I was sent Clade by James Bradley, and was instantly drawn in by the blurb. Set against a very startling and believable world of climate change, Clade follows the tale of one family and their generations as they struggle to live in a world that has been ravaged by pollution and population size. The world is close enough to our own to feel familiar, but also fitting in with the sci-fi/dystopian genre of YA fiction.

clade

With each chapter virtually introducing a new character/story arc (and possibly set years apart from the previous arc), this story explores both familial and romantic relationships against the backdrop of a decaying world. One thing that I did notice was that sometimes it took a while for the key figure to be introduced, which made me drift slightly whilst reading it. The almost ‘snapshot’ image of this new member of the family (the Leith family, for anyone interested) did well in keep with the horrific world that they lived in, but it did make me, as a reader, a bit unsure about who I was reading about, and why Bradley focussed on them. This may have been because the book is relatively short (250ish pages) and in order to write about an entire generation, you need a much larger book.

However, when Bradley really wanted to concentrate on the development of the relationships and the family member, he did so with delicacy and precision. One relationship I particularly enjoyed reading about was Ellie and Adam, as their relationship is shown from extreme happiness to a complete breakdown.

Bradley’s other strengths lie with the world building. A very plausible and alarming future has been built, and Bradley keeps the reader intrigued with his tidbits about how super tsunamis/storms/earthquakes affect the rest of the world and not just the countries in which Clade is set. He has also taken one hell of a controversial and political subject and made it very readable for people who aren’t entirely clued up with the climate change deal.

All in all, Clade has been a refreshing take on the dystopian/environmental future genre. Apart from some weaknesses with the Leith family dynamic, (which could be down to Bradley being an overeager writer?) Clade is a relatively short, well-written novel that will leave you mulling over climate change after you’ve finished the last page.

Buy Clade by James Bradley on Titan Books 

 

The Silent History by Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett – Book Review

Title: The Silent History

Authors: Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett.

Rating: 3.5/5

Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Adult Literature, Contemporary Fiction, Social Media Literature.


“Let the unknown be unknown. The things we need will reveal themselves in time.”

Thanks to the lovely people at Nudge-book.com, I was sent this book as a gift, alongside my main review text (link to that right here). And when I read the blurb and little insider summary of the book’s history, I was instantly intrigued.

The Silent History was originally published and serialised through an award-winning app, and released little by little as field studies and testimonals. It focuses on the tale of a generation of children born without speech, without language and without any obvious means of communication with the outside world. These are called ‘The Silents’. So instantly, the children are labelled under various terms31b3rhddlpl-_sy344_bo1204203200_
– a blessing, an epidemic, a freakshow, a scientific miracle, or just outcasts. The story is told through 120 individual testimonals, ranging from parents of ‘silent’ children, to doctors, friends, leaders and random observers, and it narrates how the children were first diagnosed, and how, through the years of 2011-44, these children grew into a world that saw the ‘silents’ change from being freaks of nature and into something far more powerful.

Now, I had my copy sent to me in a paperback book format. So I cannot review this as how it was originally published, as I didn’t have, or was even aware of the app. So, I apologise in that sense. But, after reading it, I can see how amazing this would have been as a novel-by-the-way-of-an-app. I have gathered through my research that there are even parts of the book that I haven’t been able to access, due to the user interaction that only the app can provide, which adds another level of this story completely.

Whilst I was reading it, I noticed there are definite touches of Sci-Fi, fantasy and even end-of-the-world in this book. With the ‘silents’ being diagnosed, humiliated and labelled an epidemic and then basically marginalised by the rest of society, there is a real sense of isolation and tension throughout the stories. With the use of first-hand and oral recordings of the silents history, it felt very World War Z, and the scenes of the motely groups of silents banding together was highly reminiscent of the zombie genre (think countless scenes in The Walking Dead) so I thought that the whole idea of discrimination was done really well.

With the people of the narrative, I also thought these were written extremely well. The authors could definitely explain human emotions, especially when said humans were at their limits. There are sections, like Theo (the manic, overprotective father) and his silent daughter, Flora, which does show postivity and family bonds, but not traditional sense at all. The most amusing character was either the straightforward Francine or the manic, cultish Patti, as they brought humour and a sense of realness to the crazy world they ipadiphone-33203a116f049163aa165def8aeb2a65lived in.

So yes, I found the premise and the writing was of a very high level. The original writers of the app and stories had clearly thought this out. But for me, the real problem was the translation of app-to-book. Like I said, I can definitely see how this would have worked as an app. It would have been so interesting, as the characters and stories would have been slowly given out, so the story would have been kept fresh and intriguing. But that doesn’t really work on paper. I was interested for 3/4 of the way through, but then it started to lose its focus and the ending wasn’t satisfying enough. Some characters just seemed to disappear without any proper farewells, and I did have to push myself to actually finish. Maybe due to how it was written or delivered, there were some parts were the narration felt slow and the big climax was disappointing to say the least.

But honestly, I think that is due to how it was changed from app to book. It does go to show that how stories are told originally really makes all the difference!

So unfortunately, I cannot give this a 4/5. The premise was fantastic, as was the writing. But it just didn’t work as a book. Not to this reviewer anyway.

But let me know! Have you ever read or used The Silent History app/book? How does it compare?

Once again, huge thank you to Nudge for sending me this.

Links:

To buy the book – Waterstones/Amazon

Website – Click Here