Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Glass Arrow - by Kristen Simmons

My rating:

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. (Goodreads)

I found The Glass Arrow when I was looking for standalone YA novels. I have nothing against series, but I've read so many lately and I'm getting really impatient waiting for sequels. A world where women are sold as property seemed like an interesting premise, and I think Simmons pulls it off fairly well. We don't get a lot of background on how this situation came about, but that didn't bother me too much. The worldbuilding is solid enough to paint a good picture of the current state of things, and this is accepted as the status quo. I think the lack of background is also less important than in many YA post-apocalyptic novels because of one key difference - there's no hero trying to change the world. Without any kind of revolution, it's easy to accept the situation that the protagonist, Aya, has been put as something that just happens in this world. This isn't to say that Aya isn't a great, strong character; she definitely is. In this novel, though, Aya isn't using her situation to spark a rebellion, she just wants to escape so her life can go back to normal.

Another, very welcome, change from most YA books these days - no ridiculous love story / triangle!!! Yes, there is some romance, but it's introduced slowly and naturally. I'll admit the end result was somewhat predictable, but considering Aya's love interest, Kiran, is pretty much the only guy she interacts with who isn't physically beating her into submission or trying to buy her as property, there's not room for much suspense about who Aya will end up with.

As far as the characters themselves, I thought they were pretty solid. Aya and Kiran are the only one's we really get to know well, but they're good protagonists. Aya is strong, smart, brave, and extremely stubborn. Even though she does come off as superior to many of the other girls waiting to be bought, we at least have the excuse that she's from the outlying mountains. Aya is strong and smart because that's the only way to survive, not because she's just special. Most of the other girls have grown up in the city, expecting to be sold someday and they're more or less resigned to their fate. Kiran is also from the mountains so his survival instincts pair well with Aya's personality. I also think Simmons did a great job of writing Kiran, who can't talk. He starts visiting Aya after she's been captured, and even with no dialogue on his side, we get a good idea of who he is.

After all the great things I've said about this book, I feel like I have to justify why I gave it three stars. First of all, I would have liked some more information about the secondary characters. We don't really get to know any of them or get any back story so they ended up feeling like placeholders to facilitate or hinder Aya and Kiran's plans. On top of that, something about the writing style and pacing of the story didn't grab me like some books do. It wasn't so bad that I lost interest, but I wasn't desperate to keep reading either.  The Glass Arrow is certainly still a good novel, and I would certainly recommend it  for anyone who likes the post-Apocalyptic YA genre.

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