Tuesday, 18 August 2015

"About Sisterland" by Martina Devlin.

I received an ARC of this title from Ward River Press, in return for an honest review...

Sisterland is all about women.  Men are only needed for breeding and heavy labour.  Women no longer need them and every female has a role within the land.  There are limited thoughts allowed, memories are censored via 'memory-keepers' and emotions are strictly controlled.  The governing body of Sisterland are a group of nine women, who make all decisions for the good of their country.  Mothers are not allowed bond with their babies, male children are not celebrated and the concept of love is unknown.  Living quarters are allocated, not chosen, life partners are assigned and every day is extremely regimental.  Women can not leave their homes without wearing masks to protect them from the atmosphere and 'nature' is piped in through speakers and air vents in the form of bird song and various scents.
  Constance is struggling with controlling her emotions and when she is chosen to 'baby-fuse' and become pregnant, for the good of Sisterland, she feels 'mos' that she had never know existed.  Her regimented surroundings start to seem smothering and she has more questions than answers.  If only she had someone to talk to.  Can she risk asking about her feelings? Is there anyone in Sisterland she can completely trust?  Is this place really for the benefit  of womankind or is there more than meets the eye?

Martina Devlin has delved into her imagination and thrust the reader into a world of 'what if'...
What if you were not allowed think what you wanted to? What if emotions were a commodity? What if  you were only giving birth to increase the population?  All combined, these concepts are fantastical, but when individually examined, many have occurred in many regimes, worldwide, already.  How insane was the Nazi regime during WWII? How many baby girls have been dumped in China? How many young women were used for breeding an Aryan Race?  Why do whole countries let a small number of people make such important decisions without questioning their motives? Simplistic, I know, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and this book brings the idea to a new level.  Set in the near future, science is not the cause of this extreme idea of a female-led society.  Unusually, there is no manipulation of embryos, artificial insemination or test tube trials.  The good old fashioned baby-making ways are used, but under controlled guidance from specialised staff.  Pregancy terms are shortened, to facilitate more births at a faster rate, and 'Sourcing places' take the place of hospitals.  The Nine (the governing body of Sisterland) are a sinister crew, who have more than a few shady moments, making the book even more interesting.  How far-fetched is this novel? Not very, it seems.  Restricting the flow of  information and editing history can lead to a very different future.  Clever manipulation, piped smells and music, thought-forming chants and complete segregation.  Is it completely improbable? This amazingly clever novel makes it seem eerily possible.  Using an inquisitive young woman as its protagonist, the author is able to address the whole background to Sisterland, and how it came to be.  The additional characters are fantastically drawn and link many issues seamlessly.  It may take the reader a little while to settle into the language and identify with individual characters, but once in, you won't want to leave this bizarre world.  Your dreams may move to another level, your thoughts on history may jar and your awareness of your own emotions may increase.  Welcome to Sisterland.  A world not that far removed from the one we live in...
Highly recommended.

About Sisterland is published by Ward River Press on 26th August 2015 and will be available in Paperback and ebook formats.

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