Release Date: February 10th 2015
Published by: Tor Books
Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dystopia
Ashali’s Rating: ★★★★★ (5)
—A Non-Spoiler Review by Ashali A.—
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. (Synopsis taken from Goodreads)
The Glass Arrow follows Aya, a 16 year old girl who has always lived in the mountains with her family: her mother, her aunt and her cousins. Aya lives in a world where women are considered nothing more than a possession; only an object to be used to produce male sons, and to provide pleasure or entertainment to their owners. The population of females are closely monitored and when they are in demand, they are hunted down from neighbouring towns (or like in Aya’s case, the mountains), sold and auctioned off to owners, who will use them until they don’t want them anymore. The Glass Arrow is the story of Aya’s survival in the most extreme patriarchal society imagined and her fight to be reunited with her family. Overall, I would thoroughly recommend The Glass Arrow.
The plot was beautifully paced; nothing felt rushed and there were definitely no boring parts. This is a standalone novel, but Simmons was able to pack smooth world-building, developed characters and relationships, romance and a well thought out survival story into one book. I’m so in awe of this, I’m not sure I can explain it properly.
An artist creates because she has to, because if she doesn’t, she’ll explode. [The Governess] She creates so others will pat her on the back, and that makes her more a slave than me.
Aya was a great protagonist – she was strong and determined to be reunited with her family. I liked that she also seemed like a realistic teenage girl; she got a little jealous, and at times she acted her age. So many female characters recently in the Young Adult genre seem to be heartless or overly cold, but Simmons balanced Aya’s strength and vulnerability amazingly.
I adored Aya and Kiran’s relationship. I loved how a strong friendship bond was created between them, throughout the book. The early stages of their friendship were some of my favourite parts, because they were filled with so much hope, uncertainty and lots of tension!
All of the characters in The Glass Arrow are multi-dimensional, and well thought out. There doesn’t seem to be truly one villain. I mean, there were definitely detestable characters, (who I wished would die a slow, painful, agonising death) but even those characters’ motives/intentions were carefully considered. I suppose, the true evil force in this novel is the abusive power that the men in this society hold over the women. And the women in this novel who readily accept it, and some who even seem to ‘enjoy’ their position in this society.
My ma taught me one thing from the beginning. My body is mine. My own. No one else’s. Just because someone thinks they have rights to it, doesn’t make it true. I thought I understood that before, but here, in this place, it’s become more clear than ever how right she was. My flesh and blood – that’s the only thing I own, and I’ll defend it until I can’t fight anymore.
Some aspects of the TGA are quite dark. In this world: girls as young as thirteen/fourteen are trained to obey their owners; many girls are raped and then punished for giving up their ‘purity’ – women are given less rights than criminals. Being owned and controlled is one of Aya’s fears. She constantly opposes and defies anyone who tries to control her.
I belong to no one. Kiran’s all right, more than all right. I owe him for what he’s done, but that doesn’t make him entitled to own any part of me.
This cruel setting for TGA, explains Aya’s guarded personality. That’s what I loved about her relationship with Kiran, he was able to soften her in some ways; he made her vulnerable and allowed her to share parts of her that she hadn’t shown to anyone else.
And I feel it happen – silent and soft as a feather, a piece of my soul becomes his.
I was completely sucked into TGA. Simmons was able to brilliantly execute some highly emotional scenes, lots of action packed scenes and also created some realistically flawed characters, whom the reader can’t help but love. Although it was a standalone, I became really connected with the characters.
Even though the ending was satisfying, I would have loved an epilogue, just to contrast all the tension and action that filled the book. Also, I wished we got a little bit more about Aya’s sister, Salma. I feel like there could have been more to her story, that wasn’t mentioned. Some of the backstory about exactly why women were hunted and treated so badly wasn’t completely clear, and I felt could have had more development.
Ultimately, The Glass Arrow’s message is universal and timeless.
We are strong and proud and beautiful and there are not enough stars in the sky to measure our worth. Yes I think, I am just a woman.
BUY THE BOOK
Have you read The Glass Arrow? What did you think? Share your opinions in the comments!