Monday, 7 October 2019

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Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Published: 10th October 2019 | Publisher: Del Rey | Cover Designer: | Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Kim Liggett's Website

No one speaks of the grace year.
It's forbidden.
We're told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. That's why we're banished for our sixteenth year, to release our magic into the wild before we're allowed to return to civilization.
But I don't feel powerful.
I don't feel magical.

Tierney James lives in an isolated village where girls are banished at sixteen to the northern forest to brave the wilderness - and each other - for a year. They must rid themselves of their dangerous magic before returning purified and ready to marry - if they're lucky.

It is forbidden to speak of the grace year, but even so every girl knows that the coming year will change them - if they survive it...

The Grace Year is The Handmaid's Tale meets Lord of the Flies - a page-turning feminist dystopia about a young woman trapped in an oppressive society, fighting to take control of her own life.
From Goodreads.

Book Depository | Wordery | Goodreads

I received this eProof for free from Del Rey via NetGalley for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Rep: Side lesbian character.


Marketed as The Handmaid's Tale meets Lord of the Flies, The Grace Year by Kim Liggett sounded absolutely right up my street! And while it has an incredible premise, and started off really strong, I ultimately found it quite disappointing and forgetable.

Tierney lives in this incredibly patriachal society, where men oppress women for the sake of control and because of fear. I woman is to be seen and not heard, be a wife, and produce babies - preferably sons. During their sixteenth year, all girls are sent off to an isolated island, and locked inside an infenced encampment, for their grace year. They spend their whole year there to rid themselves of their magic. Because all girls have magic: it makes the men crazy with lust and makes wives jealous. The day before the start of their grace year, the women are all lined up, after all the men  have discussed and decided which girls will become the wives the eligible men. There are always more grace year girls than there are eligible men. The men give veils to their chosen intended, and that's that. The women have no say. They're then sent off on their grace year with the understanding that when they come back - if they come back, because never does everyone make it home after their grace year - those with veins will become wives, those without will become indentured labourers. This is how it's always been. Once their in their encampment, they are left to their own devices for a full year, to rid themselves of magic, and survive. But with the girls slowly starting having mental issues, and with the poachers - the sons of the women who have been forced into prostitution in the Outskirts as punishment, or sisters sent their if their older sister does not return from their grace year, dead or alive - circling outside the fence, waiting for anyone to leave, so they can skin them alive, (and sell their body parts back to the town, who will consume them to bring back their youth and vitality), 33 girls quickly becomes fewer and fewer.

As I said, The Grace Year started really strong. The town the women live in is horrifying. Women literally have no rights at all. Everything they have is given to them by the men, and the men can just as easily take it away again. They have all the power, and they'll use it. Sick of your wife who isn't getting pregnant? Say you've seen her using magic, and she'll be executed. Then you can find yourself another from this year's grace year girls. It's disgusting, and just so, so awful. I was raging, and I loved it, certain this was going to be a book where, as it's a standalone, we'd see women take back their power. What I read, during the grace year, was women turning against women, because why not take some power when you finally have some freedom?

But also, I kind of just expected more. There was no background for the world building. Why do girls have magic? What actually happens if they don't release it? When was the grace year first thought up? When was it decided that the way the people live now is in the "best interests" for everyone? Why is this world the way it is? I have absolutely no idea, because we're not told anything. And was just really slow. Sometimes it would feel like things were going somewhere, but then you'd discover that actually, months had gone by. I get it, they're spending a whole year there, and there will be times when nothing much of note is going to happen, but to skip months in a few lines? And then having months go by where we see not a huge deal happening at all, really? And when things did happen, they never quite made it to the level of horrifying I was expecting. There was this sense, throughout, that things could get really bad, and at times they do, but it's softened. A lot of it we don't actually see - things are always happening where Tierney is not, and maybe Liggett didn't want the readers having to read such terrible things, or she simply didn't want to have to write them, but I mean we see a an execution at the beginning, and there are other seriously awful - and probably very triggering things, especially when it comes to the trans/homophobia - she does write, I just didn't understand why we didn't see it all. Don't give us this horrific world, and then shy away from the realities of it. I'm not satying I want to see terrible things happen to the girls, but these things aren't just terrible, they also hugely affect the plot, and we just don't see them.

And the way things ended was just so disappointing. I was thinking, "Really, this is the way the story is going to go? This is the path Tierney is taking? After everything? Really?" I got the importance of the very end, but this is a standalone story. Nothing is coming after. And this is what we get? It was such a let down. I just couldn't believe this was the whole story. For me, it just wasn't enough. There was no real closure for me. I just didn't see the point of the story, of reading it, if that was the ending I was getting. And it's also really forgetable; at the time of writing this, I actually forgot what I read. I knew I had a review to write, but couldn't for the life of me remember for what book. I had to look it up. It was that ineffectual for me.

So yeah, this story just wasn't for me, sadly. But a lot of people have really loved it, so do read some other reviews before deciding whether or not to read it.

Thank you to Del Rey via NetGalley for the eProof.

You might also like:

Grace & Fury by Tracy Banghart Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill Damsel by Elana K. Arnold

Over to you graphic

What do you expect from a feminist dystopia? What are some of your favourite feminist dystopias? Will you be picking up The Grace Year? Let me know in the comments!

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