Recommendation: Do it
Where to read: Rainy, autumn afternoons
Read with: One of these
In brief: This is really quite excellent – brutal, funny, ruthless and frequently a little too real.
This is exemplary dystopian satire – it sits somewhere between dark and profoundly fucked up, rings with veracity and takes readers, perhaps particularly female readers, on one hell of an emotional ride, oscillating between deep satisfaction, déjà vu and revulsion. I should warn you that there are some fairly confronting war crimes, murders, rapes and other assorted atrocities involved and I would urge you to push on regardless.
It’s fairly merciless in its targets, having a crack at everything from religion, the military-industrial complex, the media, organised crime, educational policy, the nature and effects of power and, of course, the patriarchy.
Unusually, I suggest that this belongs on everyone’s bookshelf. For the gentlemen, it’s an explicit exercise in turning the tables. Think of it as assisted empathy. For some of the ladies, it’s a timely reminder that moral superiority is not vested in the female half of the species. Of course, Sheryl Sandberg, Kellyanne Conway, Pauline Hanson etc. etc. exist so that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I would also point out that claims of female moral superiority are generally linked to deeply reactionary, Victorian conceptions of the Christianising, motherly, gentling influence of women inhabiting the domestic and religious sphere.
There’s an excellent piece in the Washington Post if you need further convincing.