Friday, May 8, 2015

The glass arrow by Kristen Simmons

Aya has lived in the mountains her entire life, learning the skills she needs to survive from her mother.  It is a secretive existence, one where they must remain hidden or risk being caught and taken to the City - especially Aya, her cousin Salma, and little Nina because girls from the outskirts are a great prize to be captured and taken back to the City to be sold.  When her mother dies it is up to Aya to be the strong one, the one who can protect her family and keep them safe.  In a time when men rule society and women are traded and sold like livestock, it is dangerous to be a girl who knows her own mind and speaks it.  

When Aya is captured by Trackers and taken to the City her one thought is to escape back to her family, escape back to the freedom of the only life she knows.  Life in the Garden is life in a gilded cage where she is groomed and trained to be obedient and know her place - at least that's the way it is supposed to work.  Aya, renamed Clover, is rebellious and stubborn in her refusal to bend or break by the restrictions around her.  Every chance she has she acts out and refuses to obey, manipulating the situation as much as she can in the hopes she can one day return home.  The only bright points in her life are her times in solitary where she can escape the confines of the Garden and spend time with Brax, the wolf she has known since he was a puppy.

Times change though, and the head of the Garden is becoming wise to the ways of Clover and her tricks, and even a startling discovery may not be enough to save Clover from the fate she has fought so hard to avoid.  In solitary yet again, Clover meets one of the Drivers, a race of people known as too simple minded to even talk.  As she gets to know the silent Driver she names Kiran, Clover rediscovers parts of herself and begins to reconnect with the hope of escape.  In a world where trust is dangerous and hope can be deadly, Clover is about to discover that sometimes you need both if you are going to survive.

The glass arrow is the latest offering from Kristen Simmons, who has already explored one dystopian future in her Article 5 series and now takes a look at a future that seems darker and scarier.  I was really looking forward to reading the book because I enjoyed reading Article 5, so I was more than a little dismayed to discover that I didn't like the first part of the book that much - to the point that I almost gave up!  I persisted though, and I am glad I did because Aya is an interesting and completely realised character - who unfortunately has ended up in a world that seems too familiar and common because of the wave of dystopian and post apocalyptic books that have slavery and the ownership of girls/women at the centre of the story.  Simmons has created her own spin on the sub-genre, but it felt like I had been in the same story a few too many times already.

The relationships between Aya and the people around her are the high point of the novel and what makes the story worth finishing - along with the slightly more gritty and realistic approach of Simmons to what it really means to be a "slave" in this future society.  Some of the other reviews were talking about sequels and being eager for another book in the series, but for me this feels like a complete story in itself and it might actually ruin the story to have further adventure with what happens next.

If you love character development, and like a novel that has a strong (and stubborn) lead character then you will find a lot to like here.  If you don't mind a book that takes a while to get going, that takes its time world building, then you are also likely to find a lot here to like.  If you only like books that jump in with the action and keep you on the edge of your seat for the entire novel then this is probably not the book for you - Aya is such a strong character because Simmons takes her time to build the world and the character so strongly in your mind with lots of detail and background in the first few chapters.  An enjoyable distraction once it warmed up, but not one of my favourites - I found Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch and The Jewel by Amy Ewing to be much better examples of this sub-genre.  I do recommend you try The glass arrow though, because you never know unless you try, and I read so many books that sometimes I can be a little too critical of what I am reading because I have so many other book examples to compare them too.

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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