CHRISTINA DALCHER ***
Miranda Reynolds has lost her home, her job and her husband – all thanks to an economic collapse that has brought America to its knees.
The shops are empty; the streets no longer safe. Miranda and her daughter Emma have nowhere left to turn.
There is one final hope, a self-sufficient haven for women who want to live a life free from men. Femlandia.
For Miranda, the secluded Femlandia is a last resort. Life outside the gates is fraught with danger, but there’s something just as sinister going on within.
Welcome to Femlandia… It’s no place like home.
I do love a chilling dystopian story and have previously enjoyed Christina Dalcher’s Q so I was excited to start Femlandia. Set as the world banks collapse leaving society in shreds, Miranda and her teenage daughter Emma trek to Femlandia - a feminist
commune set up by Miranda’s mother. Although it advertises itself as paradise, it soon becomes apparent that things are not as they appear.
Femlandia is a great concept, there’s something chilling about a safe-haven that might be anything but and an extra claustrophobic dimension to the story when the outside world is so broken. Christina Dalcher is a master story-teller and her books are engaging and well-written, keeping you hooked and engaged to the last page. I read through Femlandia quickly, wanting to find out what happened next.
However, I had a few issues with the plotting of the book. I think it would have made more sense for Femlandia to feel more like a paradise from the beginning and to have had more time spent on world and character building when we arrived in the commune. As Miranda is so suspicious of the place because of the history with her mother, it made the twist not very surprising and also made Emma’s character feel very flat as she just trusts these obviously shady strangers right from the off. There was a lot of conflict, bad decisions and Miranda getting into trouble or being put in isolation that you struggled to empathise with Emma at all and as a reader you never felt taken in by the place. The ending was also weird and I found it odd that someone who worked with animals in a zoo would mis-identify a noise which should be easily identifiable (no spoilers!). It seemed quite a far-fetched plot point twist and one that seemed more ridiculous than shocking.
The book also seemed to struggle with what message it was trying to convey. It made some very interesting and hard-hitting points about how important feminism is in a male-dominated and biased society but then cast those same feminists as evil monsters with no empathy or ethics. I also found it odd that in a book about feminism written in 2021 trans issues were glossed over so easily. It would have been nice to see a bit more debate about that in the story.
Overall Femlandia is an engaging and interesting story but had a bit of a mixed message at its core and could have been plotted better to make a more impactful read. Thank you to NetGalley & HQ Stories for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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