The Grace Yearby Published 08 Oct 2019
|The Grace Year.pdf|
A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!
“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner. Liggett’s deeply suspenseful book brilliantly explores the high cost of a misogynistic world that denies women power and does it with a heart-in-your-throat, action-driven story that’s equal parts horror-laden fairy tale, survival story, romance, and resistance manifesto. I couldn’t stop reading.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author
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.
"The Grace Year" Reviews
The Grace Year opens like a mix of The Hunger Games and The Handmaid's Tale, then shifts to a retelling of Lord of the Flies. It's poised to be a feminist tale of sisterhood and equality, but the protagonist - who's a complete bonehead - starts her journey with only male friendship and later isolates herself with another male companion. The way she professes her love to him is by willingly sacrificing her dream of freedom and sleeping with him. Not only is this a book whose themes miss the mark, there are so many technical issues with the writing that it's impossible to enjoy.
For a feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies that proves to be everything this book could have been, check out Wilder Girls by Rory Power.
this book loves me
but i only consider it a really good friend.
i had been looking forward to reading this like crazy, but i didn't love it as much as everybuddy else, and that makes my readerheart sad.
the premise sounded outstanding: speculative feminist fiction featuring a hyper-patriarchal community in which the fear of female sexuality is so profound that sixteen-year-old girls are rounded up and exiled for a year in an outlying compound; isolated from good decent folk while the potency of their sexual awakening is released harmlessly into the wilderness so they can then return purified, ready for the duties of marriage IF they have been chosen by an unmarried man, or for the working world if they have not. no one who has not gone through the ordeal themselves knows what *actually* transpires during the grace year—speaking of it is forbidden, but many girls die or do not return, giving even more strength to the belief in the seeeeecret magical power of sexy teengirls.
through the eyes of reluctant and rebellious tierney james, we will learn all about what goes on behind those closed gates, when girls who have never been allowed freedom, agency, or any control over their lives whatsoever are thrown together and forced to survive a whole year without supervision or intervention, with uncivilized ‘poachers’ ready to kill them if they stray into the woods, all while they are—let us not forget—being relentlessly purged of their sexual toxins; exposed to the highly-concentrated outpourings of so much dangerous female magic.
spoiler alert: contrary to what we all know about what happens when teengirls are left to their own devices, there are zero sexxy pillow fights.
i loved about 3/4 of this book. it started out with great promise, intensifying suspense, mysterious details—building the world of this sexually repressed, misogynistic community where troublesome wives can be gotten rid of—in that old public execution-y way—for dubious reasons, all on a man’s say-so, thus freeing up his bed for some sweet tender teenbride, where marriage is the only salvation or protection for women (unless—of course—you become troublesome), where women can be banished for minor infractions, or for the infractions of their sisters, fostering a climate of fear and competitive viciousness as social survival mechanism, pitting women against each other, and now let's toss a couple dozen adolescent girls who have been told they have magical powers into close, unmonitored, quarters and see what happens!
bring on survival of the cruelest.
all of this was great—the character dynamics were as fierce as i’d expected, the spectrum of emerging personality traits allowed to develop in this self-governed community felt authentic, the psychological stress and escalating tension was well-handled and that reveal was top-notch. it reminded me of two other books that would spoil this book if i named them here and would spoil THOSE books if i put them in spoiler tags, so i’ll just appreciate it on my own. but if you want some name-droppy readalikes, this is definitely Lord of the Flies meets The Handmaid's Tale meets The Crucible.
around the 3/4 mark, however, it lost me a bit. there was a big chunk of story that revisited already-covered ground without contributing anything new, there was a completely perfunctory love story; one with necessary dramatic payoff, sure, but its development was bland, and the story seemed to lose its way. i thought the ending was strong, if a little on-the-nose, and my overall post-read impression is favorable, but that big disappointing chunk lost momentum for me, and it was hard to recover.
also, speaking as someone who has never referred to a map in a book that included them, for the first time ever i really could have used one. it was hard for me to picture this location, to understand where the safe places were w/r/t the compound, and how locations were...arranged. i read this as an arc, and it’s possible the finished book will provide one for visualizationally-challenged folks like me, but i struggled a little.
i liked it more than i didn’t, but some of it falls apart under scrutiny. so, do not scrutinize! take it as allegory, as symbolism, read chelsea and tatiana’s excellent reviews, and i will round up my 3 1/2 stars because i did like so much of it.
come to my blog!
How do you review a book that you enjoyed reading immensely yet it has glaringly poor execution?
The plot is sooo good.
Welcome to a world where girls are banished to an isolated camp for their sixteenth year of life (The Grace Year) to vanquish the "magic", or power, they hold over men, only to be married off or assigned duties as an indentured worker upon their return.
"White ribbons for the young girls, red for the grace year girls, and black for the wives. Innocence. Blood. Death."
This camp sounds like a great setup for some serious nightmarish drama, huh?
Well, we'll never know because very little of the storyline revolves around the day to day inner workings of the camp.
I found it difficult to get on board from the beginning because there is no background, no history to tell the reader how we got to this point in time. Little to no character development.
The pacing is so off. Months pass by with the turn of a page. Months that I wanted to hear about.
The MC had so much potential. She is painted to be a strongwillled forward thinking girl in a backwards world. Yet at the camp she allows herself to be mercilessly bullied to the point of near death with no attempts at defending herself. In the end she does little to advance the plight of the women.
I don't think I'm giving anything away here when I ask why does EVERY YA book feature a romance? There's no room for it in this storyline. It's another eye rolling insta-love that does not fit the girl power theme.
This book has been compared to a marrying of Lord of the Flies and The Handmaid's Tale and I think that's a fair assessment in as far as the plot goes. However, The Grace Year doesn't quite reach the level of tension and abject horror found in those stories.
This book lands flatly in the YA genre and teen girls are going to eat it up, thus I suspect it will be an instant bestseller upon release.
5 Stars for entertainment
3 Stars for execution
You do the math.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Four somebody hold the door please, because I’m volunteer to get this bloody, scary, mind twisting and shouting, terrifying, not nail biter but whole arm biter, making you addict to the anxiety pills but you’re going to need to taste your boundaries stars!
THE INGREDIENTS TO CREATE THIS GRUESOME, SMART, WTH I’M READING, TAKE THIS AWAY, BUT ONCE YOU START YOU CANNOT DROP OUT BOOK:
Two cups of “ Handmaid’s Tale”
One table spoon of “Hunger Games”
Two pinches of “Beach” and “Annihilation”
And one cup of “ Lord of the flies”
INSTRUCTIONS FOR CREATING THIS HEART THROBBING BOOK
Mixed them with anger, frustration, witchy spells, pure magic, violence. And finally add some survival and combat skills, harshness, vulgarism, mercilessness and as soon as it gets cold, please serve it with feminism, equality, women friendship, liberation ( For the French version it will be served with fraternite, egalite, liberte)!
It can be better pair with thriller, apocalyptic , dark, violent, nightmarish book fans!
Don’t let pink cover fool you! If you expect a soft chic lit about women’s journey, please drop it before it gets glued to your hands! If you’re not ready for this book, as soon as you’re gonna want to finish it and you’re gonna start dreaming but I can assure you are not going to see a little girl in your dreams as like as our heroine did.
My minority report for the characters:
Tierney James: Mashup of Katniss Everdeen , German TV series Dark’s parallel universe Martha( the girl we saw at the last scene), Michonne from `”The Walking Dead”. Tough, survivor, problem solver, smart, pure feminist, idealist, skillful fighter.
Ryker: Avenger’s Clint Barton( Jeremy Renner’s archer character) meets Caprio’s Revenant character, Hugh Glass ( at least Ryker doesn’t raw liver) ! Protector, loyal, real good fighter, healer. He’s mysterious, wounded, man of his word but he’s also romantic guy who is ready to sacrifice himself for his love of his life, Tierney.
Michael: Noble, decent guy is about to start his prestigious job, reminds us of Mr. Darcy. Maybe it’s not fair to talk about him at the third place. Because we don’t much see him on the book ( we see him at the beginning and the ending but he makes life changing moves and changes Tierney’s life completely so I have to mention him.)
WRITING: Smart, fast paced, surprising, gripping.
CHARACTERS: All those girls could give you nightmares! They’re acting like incarnated Betty Davis and Joan Crawford ! They’re pure evil, batshit crazy, violent and ruthless! Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest could be considered as a Disney princess if I have to compare those girls with her!
ENDING: A good one, at least there is no total massacre or elimination. It was bloodless, bullet-less , wound-less ! Gives us hope and soothes our anxiety!
WHY I CUT THE ONE STAR: It was chaotic, fast pacing thriller but as soon as I reach at the middle of the book, romance parts didn’t suit so well but the horrifying and severe parts of the book !
And I’m so pissed off that one of the worst villanelles didn’t get what she deserved!
The love triangle was not necessary for me ! ( It doesn’t count as triangle because two men never meet or cross with each other) This book might have stayed as manifesto of women’s uprising to decide their own destinies!
But still it is a good try, well crafted, capturing story and I enjoyed it!
Special thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me ARC COPY exchange of my honest review!
Reviews on Goodreads are outrageously enthusiastic.
At least the ones I saw.
So when I received a ‘Read Now’, notice from Netgalley - I thought - what the heck ...
Personally- I’m less enthusiastic about this book - than the reviews I’ve read - yet I can understand the book’s appeal.
This is a quick read: A Young Adult dystopian novel. It’s been compared to “Handmaid’s Tale”, and “Lord of The Flies”, and “The Hunger Games”.
Sixteen year-old girls spend a year in the forest in order to rid themselves of magic before marriage or entering the work force. Some interesting camp scenes. Obstacles include keeping inner thoughts at bay.
Hard work - rebuilding rain barrels, clearing the trails, weaving rope are less an obstacle than one’s own thoughts.
“All the Women in Garner County have to wear their hair the same way, pulled back from the face, plaited down the back. In doing so, the men believe, the women won’t be able to hide anything from them - a snide expression, a wandering eye, or a flash of magic. White ribbons for the young girls, read for the grace year girls, and black for the wives. Innocence. Blood. Death”.
Tierney is the main character. She is one of five girls born into her family..
the closest to the boy her dad never had. We quickly learn, that Tierney is not a girlie-girl. She’d rather work than be a wife.
Complexities of female relationships are at play....with a message that society will flourish if women band together.
Every woman that I know has experience how cruel other women can be to one another with petty jealousy - envy - cattiness and cruelty.
Women connections can break us to the core -
or they can fill our souls in ways no other type of relationship can.
Teen girls might absolutely love this book. I felt a little old for it - but the author opens up an emotional world showing ways to navigate confusion, anger, empty and guilty feelings - ways to deal with our inner rebel - and the value of women empowering women.
I guess I’d conclude that this book is a combination of the fierce and tender... taking us, the reader, on a daunting journey inviting us to look at the brutalities and beauty for both men and women.
Thank you Netgalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Kim Liggett