The Grace Year by Kim Liggett is something of a mix between The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies and The Handmaid’s Tale. I also got a lot of vibes from Under the Never Sky. Nevertheless, it’s a completely unique book. It’s disturbing and intense, intriguing and eye-opening. It’s a dystopian thriller with a feministic perspective that puts a finger on some really important issues like independence, equality and how strong and powerful we all can be if we support each other, and how scary the alternative is.
Tierney James lives in an isolated village where the men rule everything and were women that speaks their minds are considered as dangerous creatures trying to lure men by using magic. It is believed that girls on the verge of womanhood possess powerful magic that can ruin men. During their sixteenth year all girls are therefore banished from the county to fend for themselves in the wild and get rid of their magic in the fight for survival. Only then can they return, broken and meek, to enter into the marriages decided for them.
I really rooted for Tierney right from the start. She is fierce, has a mind of her own and dreams of a better world, and dares to questions the current order of things. Unlike the other girls, she does not dream of getting married and become the property of a man, but would rather prefer the harsh life on the fields. Destiny has other plans for her though… As she is sent off for the grace year, Tierney soon discovers that it’s not the magic or the brutal life in the woods that she must fear. Not even the poachers (men waiting in the woods to catch and kill the girls), but rather the other girls. Alone in the woods a very complex and twisted relationship forms itself between the girls, who are indoctrinated to believe they have magic powers.
The book was a little slow in the beginning, but about halfways it really took off and I was completely sucked into the story, reading the last part feverishly. This book is brutal and violent, but it also shows the good in people and how they can grow if they are given the opportunity. The world building is amazing and very credible. There is also a cute and very well-executed enemy to lovers part, which is one of my favorite tropes. I really hope that there will be a sequel though, as there are so many unanswered questions and so much more I want to learn about Tierney’s life ahead.
All in all, I highly recommend this book! It’s one of the best dystopians I’ve read in a long time and I really love the underlying message and feministic approach.
Find out more about the book and the author here: Kim Liggett