Overview: “The Handmaid's Tale meets The Virgin Suicides in this dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men.” The rest of the summary on the book sleeve is extremely vague, which is fitting since the book itself raises more questions than answers.
Three sisters whose ages are unknown (to us AND to them) have lived isolated on an island for their entire lives, where their parents run a sort of safe house for women recovering from violence. Ironically, their mother & father have taught them to suppress their feelings through tortuous and violent outlets (including the ‘drowning game’ and the ‘passing out game.’) Their father dies, three men show up on the island, and their mother disappears, making their perfect little messed-up lives go to sh*t. Sibling rivalries flare as the three sisters attempt to navigate this new and forbidden world, beautifully written by Sophie Mackintosh.
#NovelThoughts: There were some things I liked about this book, others I didn’t, and a few that I have mixed feelings on.
My biggest point of confusion in this novel is that, even at the end, we still have no idea the year (or even decade) it takes place in; it could be anywhere from 1970-20??. In the beginning, we’re led to believe the “mainland” is in a post-apocalyptic state that makes it dangerous for the young women to leave their island. As the novel progresses & the author shares additional hints with us (the hair dye with the “picture of the beautiful woman” on the front; mother’s magazines) it becomes not just possible but feasible this could be going on right now, in a world not quite as “poisonous” as the girls were led to believe. Don’t get me wrong—I love when authors will strategically leave out bits and pieces to force you to explore the possibilities within your own imagination; however, I dislike when I feel as though its so much to the point the book feels incomplete, and you're having to write the story yourself.
Recommendation: A unique story, but ultimately will leave you unsatisfied. The plot holes leave far too much to be desired—especially in the sex scenes, where she goes into absolutely NO details about anything. An (exaggerated) example:
...and he approached me, slowly, tearing off his clothes one by one, sending a shiver down my back. I could hardly believe what we were about to do next.
Wow, that was awesome!
I will say this: in nearly every review I’ve seen, the word atmospheric is included, meaning ‘to create a distinctive mood, typically of romance, mystery, or nostalgia.’ Put that way, this novel absolutely lives up to being atmospheric in every sense of the word. The prose is almost magical, and Ms. Mackintosh is the perfect voice to narrate the awakening of these three young women to the world around them.
**Note: this book will not be available until January 2019.