Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
the book of the unnamed midwife (Meg Elison)
Title: the book of the unnamed midwife
Author: Meg Elison
Publisher: 47North (47North is the Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror imprint of Amazon Publishing, the full-service publishing arm of Amazon)
Publication Date: TODAY!!! (paperback/e-book)
The title sounds like the name of a historical fiction, but the book intrigued me because it was listed in the sci-fi section. It was described as the “science fiction analog to the Zika crisis” and is set in a dystopian version of the U.S. I had to read it, and I am mostly glad that I did.
The first half of the book is wonderful with a super strong beginning and set up. The stories in the maternity ward were so sad and harsh. I found the main character of the nameless midwife to be extremely fascinating. She goes to sleep when the world is in chaos and awakens to the dead new world. There are some gangs of men and seemingly no women.
How the midwife chooses to live and struggle was me favorite part. I did have some quibbles though. The men in this world were either psychos or useless. I understand that it made for a lot of drama. The women were sex slaves/trade items and most men were evil. The very few good men were considered weak and seemingly couldn’t survive.
I guess I expected the midwife to be more of a superhero and less of just a human trying to survive. She does have empathy and struggles with her feelings but always puts her survival first. The blurb made me expect her to be a leader. She ends up one but just not at all how I thought she would.
Another issue was the technique of some of the writing. Some of it is told through journal entries, both from the midwife and others. These journal entries in general threw me out of the story, which doesn’t usually happen. Also, a silly thing, but the font of these journal entries sort of drove me insane. It was kinda in a italicized hand-writing font and was hard on me eyes.
Also the middle of the book sort of ground to a standstill. The midwife settles in a town and meets people in a neighboring town. This section dealt with religion in what to me was a rather cliched way. I still enjoyed the author’s style of writing but the plot dragged.
The end of the novel picks back up again and explains where the midwife ends up and why her story is so important. It felt a little rushed and weirdly unfocused on the midwife.
I found out that there is a second book explaining more of the place where the midwife ends up. Even though I didn’t love this novel, I do think I want to read the next part of the story and how the world has progressed.
If ye like dystopias then personally I believe ye are better off with novels like the handmaid’s tale or the road.
So lastly . . .
Thank you 47 North!
Netgalley’s website has this to say about the novel:
The 2014 Philip K. Dick award winning novel that Slate recently called the “science fiction analog to the Zika crisis.”
When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.
In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.
A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.
After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.
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