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Friday, October 14, 2016

Do Not Overlook The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (Review)

The 2014 Philip K. Dick award winning novel that Slate recently called the "science fiction analog to the Zika crisis."

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it. 

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.
After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.

Revised edition: This edition of The Book of the Unnamed Midwife includes editorial revisions.
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife
The Road to Nowhere #1
Meg Elison
Pub. Date: 10/11/16
Publisher: 47North


Meg Elison delivers an intense novel in speculative fiction. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife walks readers through a woman's treacherous journey through a country devastated by an unstoppable virus and a major, worldwide loss of women.

Ellison first released this story in 2014 so I had no idea what I'd be getting into, but once I reached the halfway point I knew there was no giving up on this story. Through journal entries and omnipresent narration Elison tells the beginning of the end of the world and the midwife's determination to survive. The first half of the book is slightly difficult to get into as readers are slowly introduced to the new world that the midwife wakes to. However, it is an absolutely fundamental part of the plot to help readers understand the midwife's choices and recognize the shape this world has taken.

The payoff for making it through the first half comes when the midwife reaches Utah and settles down for the winter. This is the point of the novel where my reading became feverish in the need to know what path the story would take from here, because it was going in a surprising direction. There are a number of characters throughout the story that add flavor and keep the tone of the novel from seeming too grim and hopeless.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is a read that cannot be overlooked. From the thought-provoking setting to the determined lead character, there's a little something for everyone. I'm keeping my eye out for the sequel, The Book of Etta to further see how the unnamed midwife's knowledge impacted this world.

*eGAlley provided in exchange for an honest review*

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