Mary is stuck in Section One, living with three hundred women in a crumbling hospital. She wonders what life was like two centuries ago, before the Cleansing wiped out all the men. But the rules—the Matriarch's senseless rules—prevent her from exploring the vacant city to find out.
Taylor's got a dangerous secret: he's a boy. His compound's been destroyed, and he's been relocated to Section One. Living under the Matriarch means giving up possessions, eating canned food and avoiding all physical contact. Baggy clothes hide his flat chest and skinny legs, but if anyone discovers what lies beneath, he'll be exiled. Maybe even executed.
Mary's never seen a boy—the Matriarch cut the pictures of men from the textbooks—and she doesn't suspect Taylor's secret. If she knew, she might understand the need to stop the girls from teasing him. If she knew, she might realize why she breaks the rules, just to be near him. Then again, she might be frightened to death of him.
Taylor should go. The Matriarch is watching his every move. But running means leaving Mary—and braving the land beyond the compound's boundaries.
I'm a little bit conflicted here. On one hand, I wanted to put this book down a few times. I started reading it in April, but kept putting it off. I personally write in short scenes that alternate between POVs... I want to stop that now. In theory, I love it. But reading it was kind of annoying. The scenes were too short, just like the ones I write... There's a reason I keep rewriting. Long chapters are not something I can just dish out. I have yet to accomplish one. I understand that it's difficult when you're trying to write something great.
I felt like this book was trying a little too hard. Oh, I feel mean for saying it, but that's how I feel. If it hadn't tried so hard, I might have gotten into it sooner. I might have enjoyed it more. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it... towards the end. I spent most of the book wondering why I was reading it. There was drama and action, but a lot of repetition. Some plot twists could have been presented better. I did like the background, though. I'm a huge fan of backstories and such. So getting a glimpse into the world before the "Cleansing" was really cool. And getting a glimpse of the Matriarch was kind of worth it.
To understand how badly I didn't connect: the epilogue did not phase me. Okay, there was one part. I was just a tiny bit worried. But I recognized the trick right away. It's something I would have done myself. I liked it, but I didn't get the element of surprise I should have.
I don't really have much else to say about this. That's how much I didn't care for this book, sadly. The characters weren't bad, the plot wasn't bad... But it could have been better.
I've read a few books where women rule the world, quite literally. Across the Wire (parallel universe), The Risen Empire (Scott Westerfeld, almost a race of women), and I think another one, but I can't remember it at the moment. And I find it funny that men are accused of making such a terrible world. But somehow a world of women is always much worse. Weird observation. Feel free to disagree. But I'm not the ones writing these books.
Rating: 3 stars
Recommendation: for those who want to know what a world with very few males would be like. It is interesting.