I read a LOT Of books this summer and I’m still getting caught up with reviews. The Grace Year was one of those books that I devoured and have been ITCHING to talk about!!
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett was published on October 8 and I have been WAITING to share this one with you! (That should be read with a bit of squealing, this was so delicious.) I’m ever so thankful to have gotten my hands on an advance reader copy (thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press). This post includes affiliate links to buy your own copy (in case you are as excited to read this as I was) and if you click on them, I may earn a commission.
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian
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A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!
“A visceral, darkly haunting fever dream of a novel and an absolute page-turner. Liggett’s deeply suspenseful book brilliantly explores the high cost of a misogynistic world that denies women power and does it with a heart-in-your-throat, action-driven story that’s equal parts horror-laden fairy tale, survival story, romance, and resistance manifesto. I couldn’t stop reading.” – Libba Bray, New York Times bestselling author
Survive the year.
No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.
In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.
Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.
With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.
Oh my word, WHERE to start with The Grace Year???! Kim Liggett has written one smart, unique, and thrilling dystopian fiction. It’s fierce, it’s gripping, and it’s a little bit bloody and disturbing and brutal. This is a story of survival – both in the patriarchal society of the book and during the girls’ grace year of the title.
It’s been compared to The Handmaid’s Tale meets a feminist version of Lord of the Flies, and I honestly think that nails it perfectly. (And if you’ve read my reviews, you know that I haven’t been in agreement with a whole lot of comps lately.)
I went into this story without knowing anything more than I’ve read in the blurb, and I kind of want you to as well. The protagonist, Tierney, is strong, independent, and the closest thing to a boy her father had. She doesn’t dream of a marriage like everyone else – she has a different plan for her life. Her best friend is a boy, and she’s managed to escape a lot of the expectations set upon her older sisters – until she
I have to remind myself – the dresses, the red ribbons, the veils, the ceremonies- they’re all just distractions to keep our minds off the real issue at hand. The grace year.*– The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
The grace year also shares the first rule of Fight Club – you don’t talk about it, to anyone. (So no spoilers from me, either!) I mean, you put any group of girls together and it can be brutal and petty. Tell the mean girls that they have magic powers? Get ready for the ugliness to grow ten-fold.
We hurt each other because it’s the only way we’re permitted to show our anger. When our choices are taken from us, the fire builds within. Sometimes I feel like we might burn down the world to cindery bits, with our love, our rage, and everything in between. *– The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
In this world, women are possessions and without any power, and Tierney isn’t going to settle for that.
Tierney fights to survive and doesn’t give up on her fellow grace year girls, either. She keeps her wits about her when everyone else seems to be going mad. She also discovers that people aren’t who they seem, in ways good and bad. And ooh, there is a lot of bad stuff happening to her and around her – it was really tense and scary!
There is a relationship in the middle of the book that threw me off a bit. It initially felt a bit out of place, an abrupt change to the flow of the book, and *maybe* I would have like to see it get a little more developed, but I think the importance of it is that it is a relationship in which Tierney has a say. It represents empowerment and risk – and choice.
This is a story about survival. It’s also about the complicated relationships women have with each other – trust and betrayal, envy, pettiness, competitiveness, and how we all too often pit ourselves against each other instead of working together to succeed.
I’m giving The Grace Year 4-1/2 stars (which will round up to 5 on Goodreads and Amazon).
*Quotes from The Grace Year are from an uncorrected digital advanced reader’s copy.