Author: Talulah Riley
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Genre/Themes: Dystopia, Science Fiction
Release Date: June 23, 2022
Does the world seem right, to you?
Years ago, Dana Mayer had a vision of a better world: one where women are in charge. Now her manifesto, The Quickening, has established the rules for a new order, designed to elevate and protect women. A genteel and peaceful society that prioritises nature, good manners and aesthetics. Of course, in order for women to maintain control, the freedoms of men have been necessarily limited.
Arthur Alden loves Dana Mayer but hates the world she has created. But can he find a way to resist, without losing everything? And with Dana intent on making men pay reparations for their past crimes, can Arthur be allowed to live without punishment?
This book takes place in 2043, in a civilization where women have assumed control and created the matriarchy. In this world, men are subjugated and treated either as workers, sold as soldiers when they’re still children, castrated, or turned into trophy husbands, referred to as Gentlemen, with no rights at all. When I heard about the premise of this novel, I thought I’d really enjoy the ideas portrayed in this novel, and it would have something important to say, but I was sorely mistaken.
My biggest problem with this novel is that it’s inherently anti-feminist. In fact, if a man had written this book, it wouldn’t have been published since it would have been considered thoroughly misogynistic. I think the author was trying to make the point that absolute power in any society will corrupt absolutely, and that the woman in power in this book are radical feminists, but the message is completely lost in the rhetoric of men being abusers and liars. Instead, this society where women are in power is considered even more backwards and toxic than the society we live in now.
The main issue that women have to face right now is that there aren’t enough of us in positions of political power where changes can be made to afford basic body autonomy and equality. Feminists don’t want to subjugate men, they want both sexes to be afforded the same opportunities. We don’t want men making decisions for us or our bodies and the things we can and can’t do. However, in the society created in this novel, instead of men deciding the rules for women, women do, once again taking choice away from the gender they’re supposedly meant to be serving. Are we really meant to believe that women would support this once again?
This book isn’t balanced at all. There are no likeable characters so I never connected with any of them and never cared about what happened to them. The plot meanders along and even 60% of the way through the book, nothing major actually happened. This book isn’t a character study or plot driven and I couldn’t figure out the point of it. I really wish I’d enjoyed this novel, but it was a chore to read and I had to force myself to finish it.
If you’re interested in how this society sounds and want to read more about how men are subjugated, pick up this novel. Otherwise, just read The Handmaid’s Tale, which did this story right and did it better.