**** trigger warning – blood, bullying, drug use, eating disorders, fatphobia, homophobia, self-harm, suicide, violence, vomit ****
Ahoy there me mateys. I have been wanting to read this book for a long time. I was reminded of it by a Top Three Thursday post by Sammi @ onebookishgirl. A copy was in the hold of a local library and so I commandeered it. This certainly be an interesting read.
I don’t normally include trigger warnings in me posts but this book was intense in its imagery and self-loathing. The book is targeted as a young adult dystopia. The story centers around a school for girls that is training them for a world of pleasing men. That is their purpose. These girls are literally manufactured for this.
At the end of their schooling session when they turn 17, the girls are split into one of three categories. There are the “companions” who are the highest ranked women. These spouses breed sons for the men until they are used up and replaced. There are the second tiered “concubines” who are the sexual playthings that have to be willing and ready for anything at all times. And then there are the low ranked, undesirable “chastities” who are the teachers who remain at the school to train the next generations.
This book follows a girl named freida in the last 10 months of her training before the Ceremony. All students are ranked by beauty and social media popularity. Ever since frieda became inseparable friends, at age 4, with the highest ranked isabel, they dreamed of being companions and supported each other. But lately isobel has begun isolating herself and the friendship begins to crumble. Poor freida’s ranking has also begun to decline under the pressure and without her friend she feels lost. This book shows freida’s long spiral into self-despair and destruction and her mad scramble for a coveted companion spot.
There is no happy ending. This stark, bleak look at a terrible future for women was harrowing and heart-breaking. The girls are vicious rivals who bully each other and abuse themselves. I found meself both rooting for freida, pitying her, and becoming frustrated with her bad choices. I wouldn’t call this a fun read per se, but it was certainly a compelling read. I did personally like the first half of the book and the lead-up to the introduction of the boys (the “Inheritants”) better than the rest. Overall, I recommend this book to those who can handle the harsh themes and are prepared for a thought-provoking and difficult book.
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful.
For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.
Best friends Freida and Isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year.
But as the intensity of final year takes hold, Isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight . . .
And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride.
Freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known. . .
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