Sarah Hall – Daughters of the North (2007)

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Who run the world? Girls! Although as Sarah Hall details, it might not always be the best thing. In this dystopian future Hill depicts a world where women’s lives (especially their reproductive rights) are tightly controlled by the government. Wanting to escape, the narrator (who calls herself “Sister”) digs up her great-grandfather’s army rifle and escapes to north to Carhullan. Carhullan is an “eco-feminist” commune where women, led by the enigmatic Jackie Nixon, feed, cloth, and care for one another. While the author paints an idealistic picture, not all is what is seems and the community of Carhullan is not exempt from corrupt leaders and governance problems.

While there are echoes of Margaret Atwood (most notably the Handmaid’s Tale) throughout this work, Hall’s novel is largely original. Most dystopian futures and speculative fiction books published recently take place somewhere in North America. Hall however, transports the reader to rural Great Britain, which contributes to the original idea of Carhullan as a “utopian paradise.” While Hall sometimes does get bogged down in detail and analysis, overall the plot moves well and the characters are compelling. A must-read for anyone who firmly believes that there would be less strife in the world if women were in charge.

Rating: 3.5/5

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