Thursday, April 30, 2015

Review: The Blondes by Emily Schultz

The Blondes by Emily Schultz
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Netgalley
Rating: 4 Stars

Hazel Hayes is a graduate student living in New York City when she learns she is pregnant from an ill-advised affair with her married professor. More worrisome than the shock of this discovery is the apocalyptically bad timing; random but deadly attacks, all by women with light hair, have begun terrorizing the city's inhabitants. As the days pass, it becomes clear that the attacks are symptoms of a strange contagion that is transforming blondes from all walks of life--whether CEOs, flight attendants, students, accountants, television personalities, or academics--into rabid killers. Hazel--confused, desperate, almost penniless and soon visibly pregnant--flees the city and sets out to cross the border into Canada where she will find the one woman who just might be able to help her in a world gone awry.
I'm not going to lie to you. If anything is pitched to be the "next Margaret Atwood"  or if she's given a quote on the book, I'm going to read. And if anything is pitched to be like something from the queen herself, I'm going to have high expectations. The Blondes did not disappoint. 

Firstly, what I adored about Schultz's novel was how creative it was. The Blondes is written from the perspective of our protagonist, Hazel Hayes. But instead of just telling the story, Hazel is telling her unborn child of the world before, the world during and how the world came to be: a dystopian one. From a feminist point of view, I love this! The idea that Hazel is telling her unborn child of her life before the baby is hugely significant of the mother/child relationship. Taking from my own experience, I hardly know anything of my mum's experiences pre-me. The idea that a mother's past is no longer important, one to be ashamed of or kept secret is a huge theme of this book. And ultimately, I think it represents the larger idea of female identity and motherhood, and if women are supposed to be mothers as a natural course of life. Many critics comment on how The Blondes has a ridiculous amount of references (a lot of which are uncanny) to The Handmaid's Tale which is true: the main underlying theme of choice (in regards to the body) is present in both novels. 

"For women, power comes in subtle degrees."

Throughout the novel, Schultz creates a power divide between the genders that comes from fear. In the dystopian world, women with blonde hair and dyed blonde hair have gone mad. Completely killing people, no longer in control of themselves, and then leading to the downfall of society as we know it. What I love about this is how ridiculous it is! Comedy is something which is often only subtle, if ever present in dystopian. And another plus? There's no real romance. This story isn't about Hazel's fight for her true love while also saving the world. This is Hazel's story. And although she's our main character, she's not pivotal in her world. Hazel represents 'the norm,' everyday women who have to deal with the side effects of others actions (much a like Offred!)  With themes of sexuality, relationships, pro-choice and female empowerment, The Blondes is 100% a feminist favourite. 

"It wasn't that I was so determined to be rid of you personally, but I wanted to choose what to do, and I could feel that choice being taken - day by day, hour by hour - from me."

Emily Schultz is an author to watch. Her creation of atmosphere and hysteria and making them feel real (think swine flu and whatever other crazy outbreak from the last few decades) and the impact it has on humanity. Schultz creates a dark world which still has aspects of light and humanity. But mostly, Schultz has given us yet another fantastic social commentary about female identity, the female body and women's choices, and how the majority of time they're not the same nor controlled by the one person they should be. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!