Genre: SciFi, Fantasy, Dystopia, YA, Fiction, Thriller
Published: October 8th 2019
Where I Got It: Library
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.
My friend and I are doing a mini book club. We each take a turn to pick a book. I let her go first and she picked this little beauty.
The story follows Tierney James who turned 16. She dreams of a better life and a society that doesn't pit friend against friend or woman against woman. She dreams of a society that doesn't have the Grace Year. The Grace Year is brutal and a right of passage, if you will, for all the 16 year-old girls. For one entire year, the girls are taken to the wilds and have to survive the brutal elements, survive the poachers, survive each other, and make the magic leave their bodies so they can come back pure for their husbands.
This was darrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk. Very dark. It was sad. It was dark. It was tragic. Now...did I mention it was dark???
And I enjoyed every minute of it.
It starts off a little bit slow, but then you can't stop reading it. I had to know what the heck was going on. IS there magic? WHO are these poachers? WHY can't these girls work together to survive? HOW many will die?
I worried for all of them. I didn't want any of them to die, but you know that not all of these girls will survive especially how quickly they turned on each other and started taking sides within days of being dumped there. So much pettiness. So much jealousy. It's a real, gritty look at how terrible women are to each other. I'm sure this isn't far off how things would happen if you take a bunch of 16 year-old girls and leave them on an island. It would be a blood bath. So saddddd and tragic.
I will say to be careful readers...there are some graphic scenes that even I was all "WOAH". I didn't expect it because it is a "YA". Pssssh. This shouldn't be labeled as a YA. I think it is a little too much. I would say for young readers...maybe 16+. It does get dark there especially when we learn about the poachers and what they do to the girls they catch *shudders*. But, I'm proud the author didn't shy away from the evils of humanity. People do horrific things to each other and to animals.
I liked Tierny and I worried about her. I was upset at her at how she treated Michael. Poor guy. He deserves all the happiness in the world especially when he did what he did.
Now, I enjoyed this book greatly, but I am mad. Super mad. There are rumors of a sequel one day and I hope we get one because that ending pissed me off. HOW can you leave us like that? It's so open-ended and ambiguous. I've been reading reviews and theories for a couple of days now to see if we have an answer of what happened. I won't put a spoiler here...but WHAT?! UGH. We need answers.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. The story was gritty and dark and makes you hate humanity, but at the same time have hope for it. Oooo that ending though made me maddddd. I hope we get a sequel. I will give this 4 stars.