My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Tuesday, October 8, 2019

ARC Review: The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Please note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions in my review in any way.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

With the renewed interest in books such as The Handmaid's Tale, The Grace Year is an interesting mix of the Margaret Atwood classic and William Golding's Lord of the Flies.  This book started out strong, with a setting that was immediately interesting, strong characters, and a story that kept me guessing.  But the ending of this book didn't quite deliver.

What I Liked:
I found the society that the book was set in to be intriguing and scary.  Men are so afraid of women having any power, they control every aspect of their lives.  They are constantly told they are full of evil magic, and are temptresses out to do harm to men.  There are rigid rules to follow, public punishments, and arranged marriages.  And there is a rage that is only between women (after they've gone through the Grace year), that we will understand as the story progresses.

Tierney has never wanted to be married and has worked hard to make herself as unappealing to men as possible.  She has planned out her life to be placed as a field worker, rather than a wife.  But she soon learns that she, like all women in the book, cannot control her own destiny.

Although I thought Tierney was entirely too self-aware, I did like how she tried to take action so all the Grace Year girls would be better off.  She was a leader.

There were an assortment of other girls who were equally interesting, especially Gertie and Kiersten.  Gertie, is the one almost always a target of bullying.  She is meek, and shy, and doesn't protest when she is relentlessly taunted by her former best friend, Kiersten.  This book show an unfortunate side of human nature.  Bullies will rise, if not challenged.  Kiersten is the ultimate queen bee.  She has a charismatic personality that the other girls are drawn to.  But she uses her popularity to consolidate power, not to be a force of good.  Isn't it inevitable that Kiersten and Tierney will be mortal enemies?

I loved the story.  What happens when teen girls are left isolated and must survive on their own?  Do the girls really possess magic or are they in an elaborate psychological experiment?  These were really fascinating to see played out in the story.

What I was Mixed About:
Based on the society that Tierney lived in,  I just don't think she would have had the self-awareness to be bothered by the oppression of the female characters.  As a reader in 2019, of course I was horrified by how the women were treated.  But I think Tierney would never had been such a trailblazer.  Or at least there would have been many other girls who had the same anger as she.

This all boils down to the old saying, "show, not tell" that writers are given.  It is much more effective to show the oppression, and how it affects the characters, than it is to have Tierney give a running commentary about how wrong this all is.
Action Sequences:
There are several action sequences where Tierney is being chased by people.  This was exciting, but also confusing.  It was difficult to follow what was happening, as some reality was mixed with hallucinations (at least that is what seemed to be going on?).  I was even confused as to if certain people died or not.  I wish these scenes would have been more straight forward.

What I didn't Like:
The ending left me very confused as to what actually happened.  As the girls are finally taken back to the village, there is a revelation that I didn't see coming (it would have helped if this had been more explicitly hinted at earlier in the book).  This revelation changes the trajectory of the main character and puts into doubt any actual changes that might happen due to Tierney's actions.  What was it all for?

Remember when I complained that the author should show, not tell what is going on? Well, she apparently got the message at the very end.  The ending was so ambiguous, I really didn't understand what became of Tierney.  And that is a frustrating way to end a book.


Release Date:  October 8th, 2019

Author:  Kim Liggett

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

Genre:  YA Dystopian Thriller

Page Length:  416 Pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  If you liked Lord of the Flies, or other books exploring social experiments, you will find this book to be fascinating.  Even with the messy ending, I found this book to be compelling. 
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  1. Seems like a very intriguing plot!

    Lotte | www.lottelauv.blogspot.co.uk

  2. That sucks about the ending. I’m still very curious about this book. I’ll get to it eventually. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!


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2020 Reading Challenge
MsArdychan has read 2 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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