Initial Thoughts on Nomansland

I was so optimistic about this book that I chose to read it first.  Reviews compared it to The Giver.  The cover reminded me of Katniss in Hunger Games.  But sadly this book did not live up to either for me.

What the book is about:
In a future world, some sort of nuclear disaster has caused worldwide destruction and poverty.  Most people are left mutated by the radiation and struggling to survive.  There is an island of all women who are untainted by radiation and guard their island against the outside world.  The girls live by a strict code of rules and have no memories of how the world used to be.  They fear men and the mutants.

Why I think my professor chose this book:
I’m trying to think like my professor and analyze why tis book would be a good representation of sci-fi YA (particularly sci-fi that looks at gender).  This book is designed to promote feminist discussion.  It’s the major theme of the book: feminism.  That’s one reason why I think he chose it.  Another possible reason (and one of the only things I found interesting) was how the future people in the book described objects from the past.  Example: A large flat screen TV mystified the girls as there was no electricity, and they did not know what it did.  So they described it as a gray glass window that does not show you the view outside.  These descriptions were interesting because the reader would be trying to guess what object was being described, and from a sci-fi writer’s viewpoint you wonder how you would attempt to describe unknown objects from the past.

Why I did not particularly like the book:
The book was very dark and depressing.  Suicide, drugs, murder.  Not what I normally choose to read.  I like my dystopian lit books, but I still want to be rooting for my main character.  I still want the dystopian world to be intriguing.  I found the setting to be desolate and dull.  I felt no connection with Keller.  I did not find this to be a page turner at all.  There were some strange passages that described nipples and nudity.  And I really would never recommend this book to a teen I teach.  I would feel uncomfortable doing so because of the subject matter in the book (drugs, nudity, suicide, murder, anti-Christianity, rape).  I’d imagine many adults would feel similarly, and that will make this book a hard sell to school and libraries.  The only similarity to The Giver is that the book is about a strict dystopian society and written in unflowery, simple prose.  Perhaps Keller is a little like Katniss in that they both make tough decisions, are forced into roles they don’t want, and show leadership qualities.  But I didn’t care much about Keller.  I did care about Katniss.

What I wish this book had delved deeper into:
The relationships between the “pure” women who have been unaffected by radiation and the outside world.  More discovery about the mutant men who visit the island.  More about Ms. Windsor, her leadership, and the state of her people.  More about the disaster that created this world.

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