Wednesday, 14 August 2019

REVIEW - THE BOOK OF ETTA - THE ROAD TO NOWHERE BY MEG ELISON


Title: The Book Of Etta
Series: The Road To Nowhere
Author: Meg Elison
Genre: General Adult Fiction, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: 47 North
Release Date: 21st February 2017

BLURB from Goodreads
Etta comes from Nowhere, a village of survivors of the great plague that wiped away the world that was. In the world that is, women are scarce and childbearing is dangerous…yet desperately necessary for humankind’s future. Mothers and midwives are sacred, but Etta has a different calling. As a scavenger. Loyal to the village but living on her own terms, Etta roams the desolate territory beyond: salvaging useful relics of the ruined past and braving the threat of brutal slave traders, who are seeking women and girls to sell and subjugate.

When slavers seize those she loves, Etta vows to release and avenge them. But her mission will lead her to the stronghold of the Lion—a tyrant who dominates the innocent with terror and violence. There, with no allies and few weapons besides her wits and will, she will risk both body and spirit not only to save lives but also to liberate a new world’s destiny.


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
Writing my review for The Book of the Unnamed Midwife made me want to read the next book in The Road to Nowhere series as soon as I could. As I had put myself on a book buying ban, and I thought I would have to wait a while but when I checked on Amazon, I had already bought this book so I took it as fate that I was meant to read this book straightaway! As for The Book Of The Unnamed Midwife, this book has these genres listed for it Sci-Fi, Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian which I agree with but, would add it also has action and suspense.

So, this book centres on Etta, daughter of Ina who goes by the name of Eddy when out raiding and rescuing young girls & women. Ina still wants Etta to settle down and either have a child or become a midwife. Etta doesn’t want either of those things for her future, she wants and identifies more with the male Eddy who goes out raiding and/or rescuing women and girls and killing slave traders. Those who live in Nowhere think Eddy travels to Estiel to trade for old world goods and things they need. Eddy has not been to Estiel since an incident there when she/he was seventeen. Ina also strongly encourages Etta/Eddy to write in a journal to keep a diary of where he/she travels and who he/she meets along the way, but Etta/Eddy doesn’t do this for a long time. Etta/Eddy has a ritual for getting the raiding pack ready. Riccardo & Errol, had long since disappeared now but Etta/Eddy remembers what these older raiders who trained Etta/Eddy always told him, you must always carry enough, but never too much. Think about what you know you cannot replace. Etta/Eddy misses Errol & Riccardo they were like older brothers. When Etta/Eddy did begin to write in the journal he/she always wrote in it at the beginning of the day. It is during one of his raider journeys that Etta/Eddy heard music and felt drawn to follow it to find out it’s source. When he enters Jeff City the first person that speaks to him is a woman called Deborah & her daughter Myles. Deborah looks at Eddy as she sees a male in front of her, the identity that Etta/Eddy is presenting to the world outside of Nowhere. Eddy is also the identity that Etta/Eddy feels the most comfortable with being. Deborah asks Eddy what he wants to trade to which he replies reeling off Metals, Vegetables and herbs he doesn’t already have, information, skilled tradesman if they want to move to Nowhere. Deborah asks if he wants women, Eddy replies he wants women who wish to come willingly only, and states he is not a slaver and nor does he steal girls. Deborah shows Eddy cloth that has been made in Jeff City. Which is a good find as the raids for old world clothes will only provide for a short time. It is valuable to know how to make fabric for clothes, blankets etc. Later Eddy meets the elders/council of Jeff City and discuss teaching children, learning to read and write etc. They each learn more about the differences of each other’s settlement’s, how they rule and successful birth rates. It is here in Jeff City that Eddy meets Flora who is a horsewoman, and who becomes an important person in this book and the following one too. When the Lion of Estiel’s men called “the claws” come into Jeff City and simply take Deborah’s baby girl Etta as a woman and Eddy as a man has a very difficult time coming to terms with the fact no one stands up the claws. Those that live in Jeff City simply hand the little girl over without complaint and no one even attempts to trade or do a deal, let alone have a show of force to stop the baby being taken.

My favourite and the main character of this book is Etta/Eddy who though is born a female identifies more as a male. She actually hides her feminine attributes as the unnamed midwife used to. The thing about this character is that they are a she so Etta when at home in Nowhere but is a male so Eddy when outside of Nowhere. Both as a female and a male Etta/Eddy continually compares themselves to the Unnamed Midwife, the way she rescued females from slave traders and when she couldn’t do that she would provide the women with birth control to prevent them from becoming pregnant and losing their child and their own life as was the normal occurrence in her time. Etta/Eddy is a kick butt character whether presenting themselves female or male. Etta had been chosen as a candidate to become a midwife early in her life, it was sort of presumed that as her mother was a midwife so would she. Etta had read all the Unnamed Midwife journals and the handbooks that Nowhere had so could have been a midwife. In fact, it would probably been an easier way of life for Etta than what she ultimately chose to do. Even though this character sometimes struggles with being who he/she wants to be I found her interesting, brave and loyal to those who she cares for.

I don’t want to reveal much more about this post-apocalyptic set plot, but there are plenty of twists and turns and secrets to be found out or revealed that keep you hooked and wanting to continue reading. The book is fairly mixed pace and yes, I found myself wanting to shout get on with it a couple of times when the pace had slowed down but it is worth sticking with. I liked how the survivors of “the dying” kept the old-world phrases such as when people are introduced it is Etta, daughter of Ina, or David son of Jenn etc. The term for having a child is having a “living child”. You can’t help but laugh at some of the descriptions, such as, “Her mouth had the sunken look of a recently filled grave” The names of the places were kind of fun to think of their real counterparts, such as Florda was Florida and there was Manhattan and Womanhattan. There are lots of “traditions” some from the old-world others from the new world. In Nowhere the mother of a living child such as Ina mother of Etta wears a wooden pregnancy bump. Its kind of like a symbol to show respect. When girls have their first blood, they are presented with a journal to write in recording their stories for the future. The gun and the book were the tools of the Unnamed Midwife and the tools of Eddy, though he is better with one than the other.

Once again, I found myself pulled in and my interest held throughout. There were the occasionally “flat” or “slow” sections but I felt compelled to read on. The book and series certainly aimed at 18+ adults due to its content and the issues it deals with. Though the book is fictional but it does touch on some difficult scenarios and issues that are relevant to present day situations. The book certainly makes you think about what you would do yourself in the various situations the characters in the book find themselves in. I enjoyed discovering the different settlements as Eddy came across them. It was interesting to compare the places with each other, what they did the same and what was completely different. It’s quite intriguing learning the different rules, hierarchy and ways of the different communities.
I found The Book Etta to be another addictive installment in The Road To Nowhere Series. It still reminded me a little of the Aftertime series by Sophie Littlefield , The Dominion Trilogy by Joe Hart or an adult grittier version of The Breeders series by Katie French.

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