Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review: Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

Keller lives in a future society closed off from men and deformed deviants. Where girls growing up are told that it was men who caused the destruction of the planet and are therefore the enemy. And where friendships are discouraged and strict adherence to rules is the only way to survive.


Keller is being trained as a tracker – a defender of the society. It’s one of the most prestigious assignments because it means likely avoiding the burden of being impregnated and used as a breeder. Every day is the same monotonous brainwashing and chores, until one day, a fellow tracker trainee, Laing, takes Keller to a hidden stash of objects from “before”. Laing’s growing obsession with the fashion magazines and make-up she finds there causes her to become increasingly rebellious. And Keller has to make up her mind – is her loyalty to individuals or does she have a greater responsibility to the collective?

As far the plot goes, I definitely get the sense that the girls were going to get caught at some point, but other than that, I really had no idea what to expect. That suspense kept me glued to the page despite there being more far more introspection than action.

Although I did appreciate the careful world building, a lot of it felt stereotypically dystopian and therefore not too surprising. More surprising is Keller, who really is quite an atypical choice for main character in a YA dystopia. Keller’s personality and attitudes have been shaped by her warped society far more than she’d care to admit. She’s hard and rough, and she’s the go-to girl when it comes to the difficult jobs like shooting animals that have outlived their usefulness. In fact, she does seem to have prominent similarities to the society’s tyrannical leader, Ms. Windsor. She is conflicted about her role in the events of the story to a degree, but it felt to me that circumstances rather than her own choices were what dictated her actions and their consequences. Considering where she ends up at the end, it’s a fair question to ask which side Keller is really on, and that’s pretty unusual and thought-provoking.

I did feel that the gender role issues brought up could have been explored in more depth. Some of the scenes seemed to be saying that if you give a pretty girl a dress and some make-up, she’s going to turn into a bitchy queen bee, which fell flat for me.

All in all, a novel well worth reading, so I bestow upon it 3 Zombie Chickens. I’m definitely looking forward to the possible sequel.

Come back later today when I have an interview with Lesley about the novel!
 
See an index of all dystopian reviews at Presenting Lenore

10 comments:

Dawn Embers said...

The concept has me intrigued. I might have to add this book to my list of possible reads in the future.

Nayuleska said...

Wow I really like the sound of this. I'm adding it to my list now. I like the idea of how the girls are separated, and what they are told about boys.

Amanda said...

It was the focus on beauty in the beginning, with the implication that all females are weak and shallow when it comes to vanity, that completely turned me off this book. I didn't make it more than 30 pages in.

bermudaonion said...

Thanks for your review, but I don't think this is the book for me.

Trisha said...

I wasn't too thrilled with this book either. Like Amanda, I felt the book was suggesting that all women want to be beautiful, and that beauty is a set, universal concept where everyone across time and culture finds the same thing to be beautiful.

I also agree though that Keller's inconsistency regarding which side was really on was unique. I'm not sure if I'll read the rest of the series or not.

Zibilee said...

Though it sounds like it had some flaws, this book sounds really interesting to me. I love the cover as well. I think the idea of this particular world really intrigues me and I would be really interested in reading this one and seeing what I make of it. I am off to check out more about this book. Thanks,Lenore!

Lenore said...

Amanda - I can see that. Ultimately I am glad I finished it because Keller really is an enigma. Compelling - and someone I'd love to discuss with others.

Steph said...

I love the title, I must say. The premise sounds good too -- given your go ahead, I'll probably get it sometime!

Steph

Cialina at Muggle-Born.net said...

I love the title and the cover, but I'm sorry to hear that the stereotypical elements of the dystopia just made it fall flat for you. How unfortunate. I think that if the gender roles were more well done, I definitely would have picked this one up. :/

Sofia L said...

I like when the main characters are strong women, I´d definitely read this one.