I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is February 21, 2017.
Etta comes from Nowhere, a village of survivors of the great plague that wiped away the world that was. In the world that is, women are scarce and childbearing is dangerous…yet desperately necessary for humankind’s future. Mothers and midwives are sacred, but Etta has a different calling. As a scavenger. Loyal to the village but living on her own terms, Etta roams the desolate territory beyond: salvaging useful relics of the ruined past and braving the threat of brutal slave traders, who are seeking women and girls to sell and subjugate. When slavers seize those she loves, Etta vows to release and avenge them. But her mission will lead her to the stronghold of the Lion—a tyrant who dominates the innocent with terror and violence. There, with no allies and few weapons besides her wits and will, she will risk both body and spirit not only to save lives but also to liberate a new world’s destiny.
I absolutely adored the first book so I was super excited for this ARC. I was a little wary of the focus on a different character because I loved the first one so much. I shouldn't have worried though. Etta is still a very compelling character and Elison is so incredibly talented at building this post-apocalyptic world. This book picks up about a hundred years after the first one. Just a note that this is still not a standalone novel. You should definitely read the first one before tackling this one.
This book focused a lot on gender and gender identity and sexual identity. It's interesting to see the new society that has formed and the way some people in the town of Nowhere worship the Unnamed Midwife and her words. This new society is mostly run by women. It's a great flip from the usual man run societies. Because so many women died in the plague (and continue to die in childbirth), they kind of run the show in the town of Nowhere. Etta explores other towns and villages and of course there are differences. In Nowhere, women do look down on other women who are lesbians or transgender. Women are one of two things in this town: mothers or midwives. There is an understanding that lesbians still sleep with men for the purpose of breeding. The whole emphasis on breeding despite all the risks was disturbing, to say the least.
Ellison's writing is just as good as ever. The world she creates is bleak and cruel, but it also has its moments of hope. She does such an amazing job with all of the characters. The women are flawed, but relatable and I loved seeing how some of the men were adapting to the new society. Some of the men were cruel and took advantage of the women, while other men treated women with a huge amount of respect (because there were less of them). I will say that I loved the first one more than this one, but this was still a very well done sequel and I can't wait to see where Ellison goes with the next book in the series.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Buy this one.