A Girl Called Fearless

368p. St. Martin's Griffin. May 2014. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250039293; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9781250039309.
Gr 9 Up—Los Angeles, just a bit in the future, is a distressing place for females. Most adult women have died from side effects of hormone-laden beef, and the Paternalists may soon win political majority, passing even harsher "protective" measures to encourage child bearing and domesticity. Avie Reveare and her friends at Masterson Academy have become experts at eye blinks, bribes, stitch code, and other creative means to avoid security detection as they practice independence under the direction of their teacher, Ms. A. Meanwhile, they see college recruitment posters replaced by recipe cards, and discuss who might be sold into a marriage contract, and at what price. The best girls are auctioned through Sotheby's and Christie's—verified virgins who will honor and obey. Avie, aided by her childhood friend (now romantic interest) Yates, decides to head for Canada when her financially desperate father contracts her to a man twice her age. All the popular dystopian elements are in place: overbearing government, tech-savvy friend, thwarted love, a "makeover" where plain girls are made attractive to men, physically challenging situations, and small amounts of gun play. The short chapters keep the action moving in this solid selection, best for readers who enjoy plot-driven stories.—Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX
Ten years after GMO beef killed most American women, women have become a protected commodity. Wealthy sixteen-year-old Avie is devastated to learn that her father has "Contracted" her to marry a leader in the movement that's eradicating women's rights. Soon she's embroiled in an underground resistance movement. Linka's world-building is detailed and thought-provoking; her protagonist's struggles and missteps keep the tension high.
Ten years after GMO beef killed the majority of American women, leaving only children, the elderly, and vegetarians, women have become a protected commodity with few legal rights. Wealthy sixteen-year-old Avie dreams of attending college someday (even though only Canadian colleges admit women now) but is devastated to learn that her father has "Contracted" her to marry a thirty-seven-year-old businessman with political aspirations -- a leader in the very movement that's eradicating women's rights. Encouraged by her longtime friend and crush Yates, Avie decides to flee north, and soon she's embroiled in an underground resistance movement. Linka's world-building is detailed and thought-provoking, recalling aspects of Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Many of the secondary characters -- a subversive teacher; a priest who uses the confessional to plan girls' escapes; a tech genius classmate who self-immolates in protest on the Capitol steps -- however, are drawn more compellingly than everygirl Avie. Nevertheless, Avie's struggles and (sometimes substantial) missteps keep the tension high, blending emotional and physical peril, opening the door for an even higher-stakes sequel, and giving readers a fully realized view of this disturbing near-future. claire e. gross

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