Christina's Reviews > Daughters of the North

Daughters of the North by Sarah Hall
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's review
Aug 01, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: novel, social-justice
Read in August, 2008

From the very first page, when the first page said "English Authority Penal System archive - record no.498: Transcript recovered from site of Lancaster holding dock. Statement of female prisoner detained under Section 4(b) of the Insurgency Prevention (Unrestricted Powers) Act" in a font that was supposed to look like a typewriter, I thought, man, that's pretty corny/lazy. Especially later when Hall didn't feel like writing a chunk of plot and she'd insert, in same typewriter font, "[Data Lost]", as if some future archivist had misplaced a page of the transcript.

Aside from that, and the fact that it took me a long time to even sort of like the characters, and that there were lots of points when I thought to myself, "wait, that's totally not what would happen," the book did give me things to think about, which is why it got three stars. An implication of the book is that, if women didn't have societal constructs telling them to submit, their true natural state is... primal/soldier, perfectly toned, and capable of killing without much thought. Yeah, they make friends and stuff, and there are "tender" moments (but still weirdly hard and distant), but these women, in their dystopian post-climate-change/post-war England, seem way more excited about how starting a revolution will prove how awesomely in shape they are than about, you know, the society they act like they're saving, all of whom are idiots, mostly.

so I'm not so sure about all that, but it made me think about gender and submission in ways I hadn't before, so, eh.

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