Genre: Science Fiction
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.
Even though I have never read The Handmaid’s Tale, this book was definitely on par with Blood Red Road in the gripping, survival mode story line. We are first introduced to Aya, a young woman living in the mountains with her family away from civilization, for a good reason. Women are hunted like cattle, born to breed. In a world that values male life as dominant, women are considered nothing more than dogs, playthings, and only serve on purpose–to bring healthy baby boys into the world. And Aya is having none of that! Until she’s captured and forced to go to auction, a slave to the system. But her cousins are out in the mountains, and she is unrelenting, fighting to escape the solitary confinement of The Garden, where girls are primed, plucked, and presented to men wealthy enough to place bets and buy wives.
This world is heartless and heartbreaking at how desensitized these women are to what society has made them out to be: worthless, objects, and always under the thumb of the patriarchy. To be a woman is to submit. And to have Aya, the wild girl, thrown in the center of it all, in the city of Glasscaster, and walls are going to start crumbling down. This science fiction/dystopian novel by Kristen Simmons is not along the lines of the Hunger Games or even Divergent. Aya is not a hero who is out to change/save the world. There is one thing, and one thing only that matters to her: family. And that’s what I liked. A protagonist doesn’t have to be a symbol of rebellion, doesn’t need to fight for change in society (though this society definitely needs some changes), but fights to reunite and save her family. This is where Blood Red Road fits in with the description of this book. The world-building is understandable and pieced together without a flaw or a plot hole, the history is easy to follow, and it’s all horrifying. Simmons has done a wonderful job making me never want to set foot in her Glass Arrow world, but loved the struggle, the strife, and the break for freedom.
We’re introduced to a whole slew of characters in The Glass Arrow. From the girls all named after flowers in The Garden who are two-faced and fresh out of the movie Mean Girls, to Aya’s furry companion Brax who I adored to pieces, to Kiran the Driver who made it hard for me not to smile giddily, to Salma, Nina, and Tam, the only family Aya has left. Each character brings out a different side of Aya throughout the story. Her harsh side, her soft side, her protective side. And in return she brings out the courage in them in return.
I really don’t have enough to say about Aya. She does justice as a independent, strong, intelligent, bold, and courageous main character. Her struggle is absolutely real. She is held captive, watched over by Captain-America-gone-wrong super soldiers as her attempts at escape are thwarted time and again. And though her can-do, flame-never-goes-out attitude stays resilient throughout the entire novel, the attempt after attempt with no reward given to Aya had me falter as a reader for her. I wanted her to get out of The Garden on her own accord, with her smart planning and her cunning intellect. Not run into every dead end in the maze until a boy comes to the rescue. It was discouraging, to say the least.
Overall, the novel has great suspense and action once Aya finally leaves solitary at The Garden. The entire first part of the novel that she spends there completely bored me. The first chapter snatches you up with all the suspense and action, only to watch Aya walk around in a cage for chapters to come. Once you stick it out until the Auction section, the battle between Aya and the world she was sold into really starts to heat up. Crawling through the start of a novel isn’t my favorite thing in the world when it comes to reading, but The Glass Arrow does eventually pick up speed and doesn’t stop there until the book comes to a close.
Final Summation: To make a long review short, The Glass Arrow clinches at your heart and root for Aya as she struggles through the world of human trafficking, a world that demotes her from a person to a thing that can be rated and sold and sold and sold again until she has no use anymore. She fights and falls and fights again until she can be reunited with her family. For me, it definitely lives up to the comparison to Blood Red Road, and fans of the novel should dive into Kristen Simmons’s world of The Glass Arrow.
5 Copies of Glass Arrow and Bookmarks by Kristen Simmons.
1 Winner will receive a Signed Copy of The Glass Arrow and Bookmark.