Published by Tor Teen on February 10th 2015
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.
The Glass Arrow really blew me away. It’s a dystopian that reverts back to treating women like property and because of processed food pills, women are not as fertile as they once were. Aya has grown up away from this life, living in the wild, but always being hunted. One day she is captured and taken in to be groomed to be auctioned off. She has managed to get out of being sold so far and her latest plan involves instigating a fight that ends with her nose being broken.
Sent to solitary confinement, she is guarded by a Watcher, who cannot talk and has been changed to follow orders. Aya meets a Driver boy there, a group of people who are mute and live outside the actual town, but come in to do work for money and medicine. She finds herself opening up to him and telling him things about herself that she never revealed to anyone. I loved these interactions, as she begins to call him Kiran, as the color of his eyes remind her of a Kiran stone. All the while, she is trying to plot a way to escape before she has to go to auction again and her month in solitary winds too quickly to an end.
The inevitable leads up to an actual auction and although she tries to stage herself in a way to be unwanted, she catches the eye of someone very unexpected. Now that she is to be sold and removed, she has to come up with a new plan to make it back to her real home out in the woods, away from the city and back to those she cares for.
I like the strength in Aya, she is defiant but not stupid enough to try to get herself killed or worse, sold into prostitution. She is trying to delay the inevitable sale of her body to someone else. It sickens her that some of the other girls want to be chosen, when they are just usually used and rarely become an actual wife of someone. The center at the story is Kiran and his own story comes to light as well during the second half of the novel.
The Glass Arrow spun a world where it is dangerous to be a woman who wants to be more than an object. It’s a scary reality that our society could regress and treat us as something to be owned. This novel definitely made me want to check out Simmons’ other books.
A great dystopian novel with a strong female lead and an intriguing world.