The Glass ArrowFeaturedHot
The plot: The action gets going from page 1. You are immediately thrown into Aya's head, as she runs away from Trackers who are trying to capture her to sell at auction in the city. I wasn't expecting where the novel would go at first, with Aya being taken in to the Garden and not immediately sold. Aya's time in the Garden, a place where girls are confined, trained and prepped for sale, was fascinating and crucial to the rest of the story.
By the second chapter, Aya has already spent 107 days in the Garden. Simmons could have spent an entire book detailing Aya's time there; instead she chose to show us what Aya has learned from captivity, how she has changed, and to move right into the plot points that actually move the story along: when she meets Kiran.
The characters: Simmons has created some great characters in The Glass Arrow. Aya, known in the Garden as Clover, is a badass. She's grown up in the mountains, and has had to care for her family, hunt and fish, and hide from Trackers since she was born. The girl has awesome survival skills, and she is clever about putting them to use. Aya is also very adaptable, a trait which we won't often see in YA female protagonists. Aya can adapt and change to any situation, using her skills in new and innovative ways when most girls would freeze and hold back in fear. I really respect Aya, and saw a lot of myself in her. I wish I was even half as badass as she is!
Aya meets the mute Driver boy, Kiran, on her 5th jaunt into solitary "confinement." Kiran approaches Aya and manages to befriend her. They develop a bond, and Aya can interpret Kiran's gestures and expressions into speech. She never really knows if Kiran can understand everything she says - no one knows what language the Drivers speak, if any - but she spills her heart and soul to the boy, anyway. They spend many nights sitting side by side and "talking" as Aya is chained up in solitary. Kiran develops a lot as a character, and I really like who he becomes. He has an unexpected depth that readers will love to explore.
Last, but not least: Brax. During her first period in solitary, Aya rescues and cares for a wolf pup, which she names Brax. Over the 10 or so months Aya spends at the Garden, Brax grows up and becomes her best friend. Aya actually longs for time in solitary so that she can spend time with Brax, the clever, highly intelligent and endearing wolf companion.
The Verdict: Simmons has created an eerily realistic dystopian world then thrown her characters into the toughest situation they could imagine, and they fight for their freedom harder than anything. The Glass Arrow is a masterpiece of feminist fiction that teens and adults will love.
I was really cautious going into this book. I knew from the synopsis that it had the potential to be a book I really enjoyed. I wanted to try and go in with as little expectations as possible and base my opinion of the book on what I thought, not what others around me thought of it. That is easier said than done, however, as this book as many reviews, and not all of them are good. I am really glad that I ignored the negative reviews and went in with a level head and no expectations.
The best part of this novel was hands down the world building. Kristen Simmons managed to be thorough without it being overdone. From the beginning of the novel, it was clear what the rules and customs of the world were. There was never any confusion in understanding the world as I commonly have with dystopian and fantasy novels. I also enjoyed some of the vagueness she left to some of the worldbuilding. The reader is able to discern some of the technologies that might be what we have today, but they are described through Aya's perception and therefore does not give us an exact description. They could be similar to what we have now or vastly different. I found that this made the book more timeless as if this could be happening in our near future or possibly in a distant future.
I really enjoyed the characterization in this novel. Aya was spunky and free-spirited. She was not afraid to face danger if it meant helping those she loved. She was a complete badass, and yet she was flawed. She was bullheaded and impulsive. She was real, she wasn't perfect, she made rash decisions and it did not always end up in her favor, but she did all she could, but she never stopped fighting to get herself and her family out of danger. It was not just Aya that I enjoyed. I really enjoyed all the characters. Kiran was a great love interest, who went out of his way to help Aya when it meant risking his own life and status in his community, Daphne, was one of my favorite supporting characters. I couldn't stand her in the beginning but she had such a great character arc, I couldn't help but ending up liking her character. I can't say much more as it would spoil part of the book on future readers, but her character ends up being one of my favorites.
One thing I really enjoyed this book was that I felt that it was more realistic than most other YA dystopian's. Aya is not special or chosen. She is a normal girl trying to live her life in a world that wants to confine her. She isn't going out of her way to collapse a corrupt regime or to make the world a better place for all, she is trying to survive and remain free. For me I found this to be a much more realistic take on dystopian novels and I enjoyed it immensely.
While this is a young adult novel, I would not recommend it to the younger demographic of young adult readers. This book does contain themes of sexual and physical violence that I do not think may be appropriate for younger readers. But for those who are able to handle tough content such as what is in the novel, I think it would be a great read. I really loved it, and would recommend it highly.
This book is about Aya, who has been living in the wilds her whole life with the rest of her family. So far, they have been able to evade capture, but one day their luck runs out and Aya is taken. In this society, women are property that are sold to the highest bidder. The owners can even throw away their new 'properties' once they get enough use out of them, get tired of them. etc. Basically, women cannot have a life in this society and are solely used to make more males and 'entertain' the males. In fact, in this society that can't possibly have too many females, so many female babies are simply just killed so that the female population won't grow. Yeah, this is a horrible society.
Anyway, Aya now has to be kept with the other girls who are waiting to be bought. Many of these girls are even excited for this prospect, as they were raised for it. Aya just wants to escape and be free again in the wild, something the other girls don't understand, but each escape attempt gets her nowhere and causes the chains to constrict her further.
Wow, that was one rambling synopsis from me...
First of all, this book is definitely feminist. I have no problem with that, as I am feminist, but books like this always upset me. Why? Because of how horribly the women are treated, which is probably the point. The plot of girls being sold to men like this is not a prospect I haven't seen before, but it's still horrible to see. What's interesting about this book is that the pacing isn't exactly fast and a majority is Aya planning things, this book still has so much going on! That probably doesn't make much sense, but that's precisely how I felt in this book.
As mentioned in my own synopsis, the other girls were all giggly over the prospect of being sold. They also made fun of Aya for being from the wild and they would brag about men being interested in them (in the buying them sense). Really, this is horrible. It's horrible that they would want this life, but they grew up with knowing and planning for this, so this is the only thing they knew. Aya, on the other hand, knew true freedom and she looks at them in the same way we do, disgusted that the girls ended up like this and don't know true freedom, and that the men turned them to this. I also would like to mention that the men are the same way. All of the men are portrayed horribly, because they were raised to believe that the women are just their property. There's a little boy in this book that already has started acting like a little demon because that's just how he was told to act. Anyway, these aren't really important to the book, but I just think it says a lot.
There actually aren't a whole lot of major characters in this book, throughout most of it. There are a lot of side characters, but the only main ones seem to be Aya, Brax, and Kiram. I liked Aya strength in this book. She knows freedom, as I already mentioned too much, and wants to get back to that as much as she can, She also worries about her family and wants to make sure that they are okay. She does get close to giving up, but she always tries to come up with ideas to escape as well as take advantage of any opportunity. Brax is a wolf friend that Aya makes, when the wolf was a pup. I loved their relationship, though I admit I have a soft spot for animals. Lastly, is Kiram. There relationship was very interesting because Kiram couldn't talk. It also took awhile for Aya to trust him, but Kiram obviously did care for Aya and wanted to help her (even if Aya couldn't see that for awhile). It's very interesting how Aya's too main friends couldn't talk to her...
As for romance, there isn't a whole lot. Really, there aren't a whole lot of romantic opportunities in this book. Not only is Aya trying to escape, but she lives in a horrible society. It makes me very happy that the book is focused on those things, rather than any romance. Though, there is a budding romance, which is probably obvious to anyone who reads YA (we are adept and figuring out who the love interest is very quickly).
Overall, this book has a very horrible subject matter, in terms that it's very disturbing, but it was also very important. I liked this book and enjoyed reading this! Also, this book is a standalone and it tied up very nicely! I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a dark, standalone dystopian!