The Glass Arrow
Genre: Dystopia, YA
Publication date: February 10th 2015
by Tor Teen
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.
-A copy was provided by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for review-
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road? Sign me up! And unlike most times, I actually agree with that description. The Glass Arrow is a story about a girl living in a terrifying world where women are sold like livestock to the highest bidder. Fortunately for her, she has been raised in the wild, away from it all. Until now… she gets caught by hunters and she’s shown no mercy.
Being a fan of Kristen’s Article 5 series, I had high hopes for this one. Even though I didn’t absolutely love it, it does have a lot going for it that I think many will enjoy. The world building is what I found to be the book’s best quality. We’re shown the ins and outs of this cruel world from the beginning, both outside and inside the city. The plot itself, however, is fairly slow paced throughout. We spend a lot of time imprisoned in solitary, brooding, planning, and longing for freedom. While this can get a bit monotonous at times (more on this in a sec), it does allow for some excellent character building. We get to know Aya quite personally – how she thinks, why she reacts the way she does – until she becomes a part of ourselves. She’s definitely not flawless, and a couple of times I wanted to scream at her for what she was about to do, but it was easy to put myself in her shoes and understand what led to her decisions. She shows kindness in the midst of cruelty, and that’s rarely a mistake.
I did struggle for the first half of the book, though. During her imprisonment, Aya does nothing but plan her escape. Her determined attitude makes it easy for us to root for her, however, there are so many failed attempts and botched plans that I began to get frustrated. Combined with the slow pacing, I felt like these instances were nothing but attempts at building excitement, but then went unrewarded. Maybe to mask the fact that we were moving at a snail’s pace? Except it only highlighted the lack of progression, in my opinion. Having someone try and fail over and over again is discouraging, and left me feeling annoyed instead of sympathetic or eager.
Eventually we do start moving forward. The least 40% or so is full of adventure and excitement and hope and bravery. Our view of this world gets more complex as we delve deeper into the different factions, we meet a few more secondary characters, while learning intriguing twists along the way. A bit of romance shows its head in this final chapter, too, but it’s still fairly low-ball so don’t expect a very romantically-inclined story at all. It’s more about family and survival in a world where death could be a mercy. Fans of survivalist stories are likely to take a liking to this one, as long as you don’t mind its unhurried nature.