I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by 47North on October 11th 2016
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Philip K. Dick Award Winner for Distinguished Science Fiction
When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.
In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.
A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.
After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.
I am a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, so when I saw The Book of The Unnamed Midwife on NetGalley I was intrigued. A novel that follows a nurse the initial days after an apocalyptic event that kills a large portion of the female gender. In the days following the apocalypse women become property to men and it is revealed that no pregnancies render living children. As humanity struggles to overcome the loss of civilization, they also now must face a future without the ability to have children.
I appreciated what this novel tried to do by bringing feminism to the apocalypse. The supreme maltreatment of women and the moral ambiguity of a society without civilization was an interesting addition to a traditional tale of survival that has saturated the literary market.
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is a tale about an average woman in an extraordinary world. Although a short novel of only 190 pages, the midwife goes through many different experiences: discovering her own weaknesses, saving women from horrific situations and realizing that helping others is more important than making herself happy.
This is a novel about self discovery as much as it is about feminism and the fall of civilization.
I did not love how sexual the book became approximately half way through, with some behaviours by the main character that she doesn’t seem to really feel all that bad about. She hurts others, including women, but then continues on her crusade to save people. Some of the events in the novel were unbelievable, but served the purpose of creating a world that is very much unlike our own.
Personally, I found this book to be a satisfactory read. I loved that the author tried to make this book more than just a typical apocalyptic novel and inject some deeper meaning into the main character’s experiences. The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is about individuality as much as it is about the human condition.
This book will appeal to readers who enjoy post-apocalyptic novels, feminist literature, tales about self-discovery and flawed female leads. I would not recommend this to readers who are sensitive to rape literature or literature with an uncomfortable level of description of abuse scenes.