Review: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

35099035Verdict: Not quite for me.

My rating: 3 put of 5 stars

Genre: Speculative Fiction

Published by HarperCollins UK, 16th January, 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

FIVE WOMEN. ONE QUESTION: What is a woman for?

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

RED CLOCKS is at once a riveting drama whose mysteries unfold with magnetic energy, and a shattering novel of ideas. With the verve of Naomi Alderman’s THE POWER and the prescient brilliance of THE HANDMAID’S TALE, Leni Zumas’ incredible new novel is fierce, fearless and frighteningly plausible.

My thoughts on this are all jumbled up; I thought I would adore this and it is not a bad book by any means but it took me three months to finish this. I could just not get on board and I am not quite sure where my problems lie.

I love the plausibility of the world Leni Zumas has created here, it feels organic in a way that is scary and frustrating. Set in the not so distant future, reproductive rights have been severely limited: abortion is illegal in all and every circumstances (and in fact considered murder), in-vitro fertilization is unavailable, and soon adoption will only be possible for straight, married couples. Told from five different perspectives, Zumas shows the far-reaching consequences these changes to the law might have. Her world is plausible and aggrevating and often feels contemporary rather than speculative.

My main problem were the characters that often felt underdeveloped and not particularly fleshed-out. As they are often refered to by a descriptor (“the mother”, “the daughter” etc.) this was probably on purpose: these things that are happening do not happen to these women because of who they are but rather because of the way the social structure is set up. Intellectually, I get, emotionally, I did not care for their stories at all. There was a large chunk in the middle that did not work for me because of that distance. I do think that the storylines converged nicely in the end and that the character development if slight did work.

I enjoyed Leni Zumas’ particular prose a whole lot and thought it added a nice layer of urgency and intimacy to an otherwise distant book. Her sentences are choppy but have a nice rhythm to them.

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and HarperCollins UK in exchange for an honest review.

6 thoughts on “Review: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

  1. This is kind of what I was worried about with this book – I feel like there’s a certain type of dystopia/speculative novel that relies too heavily on the premise to hook the reader and doesn’t follow through with good storytelling.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bummer that you didn’t like this that much! For some reason I connected really strongly with the characters, so I came out of it feeling totally different. I can definitely see how it wouldn’t work for some people, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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