I’ve read a lot of dystopia. More than anyone I know, really. Most of it is young adult, thanks to The Hunger Games and all it’s iterations. Really, it started with The Giver, but that book, ridiculously, didn’t catch on at first. And I’m to the point where the genre is so watered down with crap that it’s hard to find anything good. I still think The Hunger Games, Legend, Red Rising, and Chaos Walking are some of the absolute best series out there. For non YA , I loved Swan Song, 1984, The Stand, and The Road. I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting, so feel free to comment if you have suggestions. I’m pleased to say Daughters of the North (or The Carhullan Army depending on where it’s published) is one of the better books of the genre I’ve read.
I think I enjoyed this so much for a couple reasons. First, the main character is a strong woman, but she isn’t a teenager with weepy emotions, irrational thoughts, or general annoyingness. I think teens are painted so unfairly in books, but that’s another post for another day. The main character, called Sister, lives in a miserable world controlled by the government where women are sterilized against their wills, work is mundane, and marriage is a sham. So, she runs away, plain and simple. Since she was a child, she has known about the Carhulla society, made up entirely of women, and hikes miles and miles to get there. She isn’t greeted warmly, to put it mildly, but slowly she is taken into the fold and accepted. Second, this book is full of woman empowerment. They don’t need men, aside from procreation. They are fully self sufficient in Carhulla. Everything from hunting, scavenging, fighting, to washing, building, cooking is done solely by the community.
The plot of the book is simple. Some of the women want to overthrow the government. Some of the women in the group are kind and honest, and some seem a bit off. Who Sister ends up siding with in the “should we or should we not overthrow the government” is eventually revealed. Although the end was a bit odd in that a giant event is told after the fact that it happened, rather than as it is happening, I enjoyed the book overall. And it’s a stand alone book, which is rare to find in this genre these days. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book.