Monday 18 March 2024



Jane Hennigan
Angry Robot
Dystopian, Speculative Fiction, Futuristic
Release Date:
12th March 2024

Forty years ago, the world changed. Men became crazed killers and threatened all humanity. Now the world might be about to change again, but will it be for the better?

Forty-four years ago, as any schoolgirl can tell you, the moth’s eggs hatched and an army of caterpillars spread their tiny toxic threads on every breath of wind. Since then, men have been cloistered, protected from birth against the deadly poison.

But now there’s a vaccine - a way that men can leave the facility without dying or suffering from psychosis. Emerging, into their new world, eyes wide with wonder at every new experience, the truth soon becomes clear.

Goodreads Link

Toxxic has a sharp stark cover featuring the bright neon green on a dark background. Theres also the clever use of a hypodermic needle as the “I” in Toxxic. I really like the cover, it fits well with the first book in the series, and would make me pick it up from a book store shelf to learn more about it.

The danger of the Moths and their threads is still apparent so men are still in facilities……for now! There are differing opinions on what should be done with them. There’s those that want the men to live out their days confined to the facilities, yet at the same time complain about the resources needed to keep the men there. Then there’s the other people who want to reintegrate the men into society. A vaccine has been found and it’s decided a small test group will be formed. A man from a facility and a boy from a prep school will be given the vaccine and placed in a home, into a family to see how they cope and how the dynamic works.

Of course, the families housing the males are to be given incentives such as extra land, a scholarship for a member of their family either at agricultural or engineering or a non- resident teacher course. The hosting families are also given training in how to deal with the men/boys along with extra clothing, and more food & travel vouchers. The males are placed within the families in kind of a buddy system, a boy from a prep school and a man from one of the facilities.

Tony and Artemis are two men chosen and they are paired with two young boys Layton and Daniel. The males, both boys and men are to experience life outside and a freedom to move around that they have never had before. They are expected to work and do chores in exchange for a roof over their heads, food and clothing. They are supposed to integrate into the community of Eastor but it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is happy about the vaccine, the males or the families accepting the men in the trial either. Life becomes much harder and dangerous for the males on the trial and the families they are placed with. That’s probably why Evie and Molly become closer as they hare both in the same situation.

Whilst there are those that support the system there are many that oppose it and will go to any lengths to sabotage the experiment. The main underground opposition are the Womens Conservative Society, with its Head Quarters also known as XXHQ on the outskirts of Citadel. All the women that are part of the society are referred to by numbers such as XX104 who joins the movement to prevent males being let out of the different facilities.

We read about the day to day things the women take for granted that the males are now becoming part of. Tony isn’t used to the hard physical work but makes up for any short comings with enthusiasm. Artemis starts off sullen and thinking about running away to becoming attached to both the young boy put with him as part of the buddy system and Evie. The men get to be outside, not looking at the outside from behind glass, they can breathe real fresh air that hasn’t been through a filtration system. They experience friendships and being around females that aren’t staff members for the first time too. There are some really poignant scenes within the book. Of course, the males “mess up” but they do their best to do whatever is asked of them. They also feel responsible when a beloved animal is killed purely because of their presence in Eastor.

There is so much going on in this book, theres the daily interactions between the males and their foster families, the way the foster families are shunned by neighbours for even having males in their homes. Theres also the member of the Womens Conservative Society XX62 who went into a meeting at Chesterford, another area chosen for the male integration trial and blows herself up, injuring many and killing four little boys.

Two of my favourite characters were Mary and Tony. The way Tony wrote to Mary about everything that was happening, he didn’t forget her kindness towards him at the facility. Tony really has a lot to deal with throughout the series, people he thought dead and long gone suddenly reappearing, then the loss of Mary, the hate from the women who think the men should remain in the facilities. I also enjoyed the way the tough, grumpy Artemis softened when placed within a family and tried to nurture the young boy placed with him.

I would have loved a happier ending for Tony, Daniel and Layton, and a way that Evie could keep her child whether it is born male or female. I’d also have liked to know more about Sophia and how/why she has Logan and Nathan. So I’m kind of hoping that there may be a third book?

As soon as I finished reading Moths, I couldn’t wait to start reading Toxxic, I really wanted to know what was going to happen next. There were a couple of occasions when I was slightly confused as the book does jump from the past to present etc quickly. But once you really get into the book its addictive reading, and I did not want to put this book down. I haven’t read two books in the same series back to back like I did with Moths & Toxxic for a long time and I really enjoyed immersing myself into this futuristic, but scarily realistic world and didn’t want it to end!

My immediate thoughts upon finishing reading Toxxic were that the book covered a lot of controversial subjects in a very clever way. The way the males are put away in facilities and women run everything, the way “male born women” were also rounded up with the men and “female born men are told they must live as women. The families just consist of women. The way women were compensated for bearing male babies and handing them over. The way that women go to visitation to have sex just for fun rather than reproduce with males. The book kind of turns “normal society” on its head. I certainly was not disappointed and honestly would love there to be more books set in this world!



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