When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

when she woke

Originally published in: 2011

What’s it about: In a near-future dystopian United States, Hannah has been subjected to chroming – her skin genetically altered to bright red – to publicly indicate her guilt as a violent felon in a society that has moved quickly toward a theocracy.

What made me pick it up: I’d heard that this was a modern-day Scarlet Letter with a strong Handmaid’s Tale feel, which was impossible to resist.

My favorite things: While the latter part of the book didn’t wow me, the opening and the premise are nearly perfect. Jordan creates a complex main character who wrestles with her own values as she moves away from a total acceptance of the righteous and utterly restrictive laws that rule much of the country. Though she is in a world where religious moralism reigns supreme and bodily autonomy doesn’t exist, her struggle to find peace with herself and her actions gives hope in a time of what feels like insurmountable tension and divisiveness.

Who it’s great for:  Fans of The Handmaid’s Tale, Naomi Alderman’s The Power, and other dystopian stories with a strong feminist bent.

Abby’s rating: three-and-a-half-shells


Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

future home

Originally published in: 2017

What’s it about: In the near future when climate change has made winter a memory and evolution seems to be reversing, pregnant Cedar Songmaker connects with her biological family seeking answers about her origin. Her life and autonomy are put at risk in a society increasingly obsessed with protecting the human race by controlling reproduction.

What made me pick it up: I’ve never read Louise Erdrich before even though she’s been on my TBR list for years, so I decided to start with her newest release.

My favorite things: I didn’t really know anything about this book going in, knowing only that Erdrich is known to write mostly literary fiction featuring native characters. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I’d picked up her foray into dystopian and somewhat speculative fiction – one of my favorite areas to read. She does an incredible job of exploring themes of spirituality, identity, family, and resilience in the context of societal collapse.

Who it’s great for:  Fans of speculative and dystopian fiction. A particularly good fit for those who love Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and Maddaddam trilogy and Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

Abby’s rating: five shells


Find this in your local library or on Amazon (affiliate link).


 

Podcast Review: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Harry-Potter-and-the-Sacred-Text

This one is a little bit different. I’m a dedicated follower of a few podcasts and March is Trypod month. As in, Try (a) Pod(cast) Month, a time to encourage others to try favorite podcasts. I’d like to share one of my favorites: Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Podcast began in: 2016

What it’s about: Religion and spirituality are a big part of many lives, and nonexistent in others. Hosts Vanessa and Casper seek to fill that void with something that they, along with their listeners, feel very strongly about: Harry Potter. Each week the hosts read a chapter and interpret it using a specific spiritual practice. Essentially, they are reading Harry Potter as though it were a sacred text, which is not too far from how many of us feel about it.

What made me pick it up: It feels like I’ve been waiting for this since Harry found out he was a wizard.

My favorite things: This podcast is the perfect length. Each episode is about half an hour long so I know I can get through the latest chapter on my way to work. The hosts take their task seriously and are able to find profound meaning in the simplest of scenes. I might not always agree with their interpretations of character’s words and actions or the significance of certain scenes, but they always find a way to reflect back on their own lives and look for ways to implement what they’ve learned.

Who it’s great for: Harry Potter fans who: a) love podcasts; b) want to give podcasts a try; or c) really just can’t let go and are up for anything Potter related.

Abby’s rating: five-shells