The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Goodreads link: (click here)
What's it about?
In a terrifying future world, many generations beyond ours, women are nothing but objects to be bought, sold and used for breeding. There are very few women left because men placed little to no value in girl children, either placing them back into the system or discarding them. Since there are so few, the ones that are left are purchased like livestock. Some women and girls live in the city and have been raised just for this and others are rounded up from their villages outside of the city, but there are a rare few that are different...they are hunted. Aya is one of the hunted. She lived in the mountains with what remained of her family. She was wild, living off of the land, free from the pollution and corruption of the city. This is what makes her so valuable, though. Her wildness is seen as a good thing, since it's believed that she's healthier than the city girls and there's a better chance she will produce a strong male heir. That is, if anyone can tame her.
Aya finds herself captured, taken from her loved ones and her wild life and brought to the city to live in what is basically a prison. It is here that she is given a new name and prepared to be sold to the highest bidder. For a long while, her fierceness is enough to keep her off the market, but it often lands her in solitary confinement, which is fine with her because that means she's alone and able to sleep outside while she plans her eventual escape. No matter what, she will not let them keep her. More than anything she wants to return to the family she left behind in the mountains.
Her time in solitary confinement is not quite as lonely as it should be, though. Solitary is actually an outdoor yard, meant as a punishment befitting the animal behavior that lands someone in there. For Aya, sleeping outside is a gift that reminds her of home. Plus, during her time there, she befriended a young wolf who keeps her company while she's there. She's also built a friendship with Kiran, one of the Drivers who tends the horses behind where she's being kept. He is mute, but the two have formed a bond and have learned to understand each other. It's Kiran and her wolf friend, Brax, who have helped her cope with the horrors of her situation, but everything is about to change when it's her turn on the auction block. There are worse places that she could be, and she quickly discovers this.
It's time for Aya to make a stand...or die trying.
WOW. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow...
Now THAT was a fantastic book!
I am totally blown away by this gorgeously written, dark and wild dystopian tale. It left my heart pounding and I had tears in my eyes by the end of the story. This is a stand alone that accomplishes more than a lot trilogies do. The world building is spectacular, she's done a fantastic job creating a terrifying possible future that is detailed and believable (although I certainly hope it'll never become a reality!). You can "see" everything in your mind and it doesn't feel like you're getting information dumped on you, it's like you're just IN this world. I absolutely loved the characters in this book. Aya was a badass. She knew her self worth and wouldn't let anyone take it away from her. As much as she was a victim, she never made herself be one. All the characters made you feel something, whether it be compassion, fear, hate or love...even the minor ones. In The Glass Arrow, you will find adventure, action, drama, romance and a lesson in self respect. When I was reading this, I couldn't help but think that it's actually a good companion book to A.S. King's Glory O'Brien's History of the Future. Both are what could be classified as "feminist fiction", and the terrifying world of The Glass Arrow could easily be part of the possible future that Glory gets a glimpse of after drinking the bat (if you read it, you'll understand, if you haven't, I advise that you read it). When I was reading The Glass Arrow, I was using a Glory O'Brien bookmark and it's just hit me how much it applied to both books.
Free yourself. Have the Courage.
That's exactly the message of The Glass Arrow, as well. KNOW what you're worth and be willing to fight to defend who you are. DO NOT be afraid to move forward or who you are will certainly be lost forever.
As for the romance in The Glass Arrow, it is slow building and sweet, and refreshingly, not a love triangle. There is also a great deal of other kinds of love, love for "family", friends and freedom. The action is pulse-pounding and there are twists and turns and moments of soul-crushing heartbreak. I cried more than once. Look...I'm crying again because I just thought about something. The world is dark and wild, yet there's a glimmer of hope. Kristen Simmons' writing is brilliant, with just a few words, she invokes such intense emotions. This is the first book of hers I've read, but I was so impressed that I bought all of her other books (Article 5 series).
I'm trying and trying to come up with all the right words to explain how much I loved The Glass Arrow and I'm not sure I can. I'm sure it will stand as one of my favorite books of 2015. I recently put it on my Top Ten Tuesday list of "Ten Favorite Books/Series From The Past 5 Years". I look forward to sharing this book with more people. It's definitely left a lasting impression on me. It took me a while to write this review because I wanted to make sure I did this book justice. I hope I came close.
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(click covers for Goodreads link)