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The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

(The Road to Nowhere #1)

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  14,715 ratings  ·  2,084 reviews
Philip K. Dick Award Winner for Distinguished Science Fiction

When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead.

In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in thi
Kindle Edition, Revised Edition, 300 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by 47North (first published June 4th 2014)
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Jeremy Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, The Dog Stars by Peter Heller and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.
Elle Yeah, it is her version of shorthand in her journal writing. I bet that would be super annoying to listen to, it is not really an issue to read for me…moreYeah, it is her version of shorthand in her journal writing. I bet that would be super annoying to listen to, it is not really an issue to read for me. The journal font is not great to look at though.


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Average rating 4.15  · 
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Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most utterly absorbing books I've read in a long time. A post apocalyptic novel that doesn't forget that before the apocalypse people were LGBT and full of yearning and need. Grim but lots of pockets of warmth. Really interesting protagonist, an unnamed midwife, who begins to create a written history that will survive her for generations. Loved this novel. ...more
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
A dark as night apocalyptic novel? That's actually good? All the stars going up.

 photo Apocalypse_zpsb2cbklom.gif

She wakes up in the hospital after being sick to realize that they are no people around. Just some dead bodies and the remembrances of a sickness that was rampant. Mostly all the women were dying and the babies and children were all gone.
 photo giphy_zpsl5cxzmk9.gif

She ventures home shell shocked and is almost raped in her bed. She discovers that there are a few men still alive but the rules have changed.
She poses as a man because thos
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

“There are battles and accidents; there are collapses and plagues. There is silence only when one side wins or everyone has died.”

This book was perfection, and probably the easiest five stars I've given all year. This was so thought provoking, meaningful, eye-opening, and important. This was also, as a woman, the scariest dystopian I've ever read.

What made me initially request an ARC of this was that it had
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife.... a really, really good apocalyptic book. If you can stand it. Dark, grim, bleak, scary but also hopeful... in the end. The world is in the grasp of a global flu. Many people get killed, mostly women. No more babies born. The Midwife survives the flu, wakes up in a deserted hospital, only to discover that the world is ruled by a lot of horrific, nasty men. Who rape, enslave women in a brutal way and terrorize the world. Only a handful of women seem to be left in ...more
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Not my usual genre, but wow, so powerful and so very frightening. Even though this is a work of fiction, it's disturbing to think this could happen in our future.

Something has wiped out most of the world's population and only a small fraction of the survivors are women. It's a story of strength and survival in a post apocalyptic world. Very dark and violent at times, especially to women.
Between Ebola, Zika, super bugs or even biological warfare, are we that far off from something th
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
A gritty post-apocalyptic tale told with stark realism and frank sexuality.

Unlike other post-apocalyptic books that wash over the disaster and cleanly describes later events down the road, author Meg Elison tells the good, the bad and the ugly of the immediate days afterwards. The reader follows the travels of a lone female survivor after a cataclysmic epidemic has targeted women and babies, leaving a very ugly and stinky male post-pandemic world.

In writing vaguely reminiscent of Fritz Lieber, t
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
Apr 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Misandrists Worldwide. Midwive wannabes.
Recommended to ☘Misericordia☘ by: Just stumbled upon it.
Shelves: lgbtqia
I haven't the slightest idea why this is so lauded and hyped and all. In all seriousness, why?

A very plain, very disjointed tale of Apocalypse, the one that took mostly women and rendered the survivors infertile for the largest part of the novel. I get that we got a preview of the Doomsday and full view of feminism but... frankly, if something happens, both men and women will be in deep shit, together. So no need to antagonize the sexes.

Anyway, everything felt like the book was staged specifica
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The book of the Unnamed Midwife is tragic dystopian post-apocalyptic survivalist novel. I read a more or less corresponding to this type and I consider this to be one of the best (right after Blindness).

The story does not sound so new. A fever wipes out 98 % of the human population, the women and the unborn babies being the most affected. A terrible world to live in. The main character is a nurse who wakes up in the hospital bed where she was left to die with the disease. Thanks to her fighting
John Elison
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Full-disclosure: I am married to the author. However, she did not ask me to review her book. But she did ask me to read it many times during its development and I must say it never became tedious or a chore.

I was immediately pulled in by the prologue and I found myself nodding, quietly yet triumphantly by proxy, at the end.

Obviously,I have a personal stake in this, but having read it and the newspaper lately, even if I weren't married to its amazing author, I would recommend this book.

We need bo
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Netgalley for this ARC.

Post-Apocalyptic survivalism, featuring perhaps the very last midwife upon the planet.

This wasn't a particularly easy novel to get through, mostly for the emotions and the horror of what would likely happen to the surviving women after 98% of all men die from a virus and only 1/100 of that counts as women.

The author makes a pretty convincing case that what would result would be massive maltreatment of the rare women, mirroring what still happens today, but much
Kelsey Cretcher
Oct 03, 2016 rated it did not like it
So far this is the biggest contender for "Biggest Disappointment of 2016".

I was so excited for this book, and it's not even that I was too excited that it was a letdown. This book sounded like everything I'd love; an epidemic that wipes out 98% of humanity, and 99% of women. The book opens it up to be this interesting journalistic look into the fall of humanity, of society as we know it. Plus an image of what a world may be like when there are way more men than women, and what that could result
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: post-apocalypse
4.5 stars.
This was a bit different from other post apocalyptic books because the outbreak that causes it wipes out almost all the women. This means that the women become prized commodities. Now this is a recurring theme in post apocalyptic stories, but it has more of a focus here: how the sexual dynamics of a community (where they survive or have organised themselves) pan out- where women are enslaved or sex is traded for booze or cigarettes or guns; where birth control is even more important w
Althea Ann
Aug 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Upon reading this, I was immediately reminded of PD James' 'Children of Men' - after all, how many stories are there which feature a near-future in which universal sterility has afflicted humanity, with the exception of one solitary pregnant woman, who is escorted through a dangerous journey by a former professional midwife? Well, there are at least two!

However, by happenstance, my post-apocalyptic book club was reading 'Children of Men' this month, so I re-read it after about two decades. (Whic
4.5/5 stars!

Just like in the novel REBECCA, we never learn the main character's name in this book. Hence the title!

I discovered Meg Elison through a few short stories she's written for horror anthologies and magazines and I decided that I wanted to try one of her novels. This one was recently on sale and to add the audio to the Kindle version didn't break the bank, and here we are.

THE BOOK of the UNNAMED MIDWIFE was a bleak post-apocalyptic tale wherein a disease wipes out nearly every woman on
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*** 3.75 ***

A buddy read with the MacHalos, because we wanted something out of our comfort zone!!!

"...“Find some people, wish you were alone. Live alone, wish for people.”..."

Well this was very different than what I was expecting... Different means just that, different. Not better or worse... I almost never read anything that has to do with plagues, because I just can't handle it usually. This was not exactly the case here. Once I started and got over the shock of the first several pages af
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a big fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, and this book was the best I've read in a while. Elison manages to create a fictitious futuristic world plagued by disease, death, and desperation without going overboard and forcing it down the reader's throat. The story flows and makes sense. Just the right amount of Mad Max-esque situations allow Elison to paint a detailed picture of the world post-plague. Gritty but not gratuitous, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife presents a realistic depiction of ...more
Sep 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received an ARC of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review (honestly, that phrase is so stupid, my opinion is always honest).

I've read my fair share of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic books and seen an almost equal number of movies/TV shows of the same genre, but this novel is exceptional! And to think that it's a debut novel too!

The beginning is a little bit like in "28 Days Later" (there is a reason I'm naming that movie, namely the rape theme) with the protagonist waking
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Everyone knows I'm a sucker for apocalypse, but I almost didn't read this one. I was not sure I could take yet another breeder-apocalypse novel, one that focuses on women not being able to reproduce (a la The Handmaid's Tale or forces the women to become breeding machines to save the human race (every apocalypse novel, it feels like.) And this is present here, in fact the central character is an unnamed midwife who is one of the few survivors after some kind of virus has wiped out 98% of humanit ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Meg Elison's 'The Book of the Unnamed Midwife' describes the most intelligent science-fiction dystopia I have read this decade. I thought it brilliant. She has extrapolated from current reality an intense speculative book based on some current civilization trends and a deep understanding of human nature.

The eponymous Unnamed Midwife was a nurse in San Francisco when the killer pathogen struck. She was not concerned at first when sick people began to flood her hospital. Everyone believes it is a
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A new favorite!!!!!

Are you looking for The Handmaid's Tale with a wider world and none of Margaret Attwood's problematic feminism? WELL HOLD ON TO YOUR HATS, BECAUSE I HAVE THE BOOK FOR YOU.

I loved this book. ADORED it. And I'm particularly happy about that because I once met Meg Elison at a book event and she was just lovely. It's always wonderful when a person you liked writes a fucking phenomenal book.

So, what did I like? Beyond a generic EVERYTHING? Let's discuss.

The world: I love that this
Alice Lippart
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a great read!
Nov 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: dystopia, arc
This book was too dark for me. Yes, I'm a wuss, and yes I should have known before I started it. But it sounded intriguing, came highly recommended and won a prestigious award, so I read it anyway.

This is a more or less classic take on the dystopian genre. But while most books I have read concentrate on the "after" of a specific society-ending event, this book tells the story of that event and the early years after. Our heroine is a midwife and one of the very few women who survive a pandemic ou
Ian Mond
Jan 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What’s It About

A plague has wiped out most of the population. The bulk of those who have survived are men, which makes women a scare resource. Our protagonist was once a nurse. Now she survives by masquerading as a man and offering her services as nurse and midwife. But what hope is there in a world where pregnancy is a death sentence for both mother and child?

Should I Read It?

Yes. Of the six books nominated for the PKD, this one just pips Memory of Water as my favourite.

Compared to other end of
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A particularly virulent plague has wiped out 98% of Earth's population, being particularly fatal to women and their unborn children. With ten men left for every woman, life is dangerous for those women who survived, either fought over or enslaved by groups of men. The unnamed midwife is one such woman who survived the plague and woke to a frightening new world. Determined to survive without becoming a sex slave, this is the story of her journey.

This was an interesting study of human behaviour f
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of post-apocalyptic fiction
I devoured this book in twenty-four hours. I couldn’t put it down. This is going to be a tough one to review, because I’m not sure how to put into words what I liked about it, but I’ll try.

I’ll start with our unnamed protagonist. What a well-written, well-developed, complex female protagonist. I was truly blown away by how relatable and lifelike she felt. I experienced the protagonist’s innermost thoughts and feelings as she experienced them. I wasn’t nearly as attached to any of the side charac
Donna Backshall
The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is absolutely my favorite read thus far in 2019.

The diary format was fascinatingly effective for this novel: "This is supposed to be my personal scripture" said one character, when she was caught copying his diary into hers.

For such a stark and difficult world portrayed, I found an odd comfort in the Midwife's genuine and intimate journey. Her diary spoke to me in the same way The Road did, leaving me both hopeful and hopeless for mankind, should there ever be a
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs, netgalley
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this digital ARC for review purposes.

In a crop of samey dystopian novels that will likely continue for some time to come, Meg Elison manages to do something fresh and innovative with The Book of the Unnamed Midwife. There are shades of Margaret Atwood, N. K. Jemisin, Vonnegut, and Children of Men here, so if you enjoy those things, it's a safe bet to say that you'll enjoy this one.

Elison's end of the world is a gruesome one: it happens very quickly
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read
A darkly realistic post-apocalyptic fiction without any lingering hint of adventure. This isn't a place you would ever want to be.

In Elison's imagined world, the plague that has decimated humanity has taken an exceptional toll on women and children. The minium protection afforded by law and society are just gone, meaning that for women, and for anyone who cares about a woman, life is extremely dangerous.

Elison's book is a bit of a fresh take in that the main character is a smart, self-aware woma
Elena C.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed, dystopian, dnf
Judging by literally everyone's review I should be a sobbing mess by now, and I tried - I tried hard to squeeze out of my little, black heart all the feels I should clearly have been experiencing while reading The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, but... this book reminds me less of something as powerful as Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and more of the kind of torture porn full of sexy, sweaty young women with bouncy tits ('cause no bra, obvs!) and pouty mouths running around screaming in the ...more
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Meg Elison is a science fiction author and feminist essayist. Her series, The Road to Nowhere, won the 2014 Philip K. Dick award. She was a James A. Tiptree Award Honoree in 2018. In 2020, she is publishing her first collection, called “Big Girl” with PM Press and her first young adult novel, “Find Layla” with Skyscape. Meg has been published in McSweeney’s, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Fangoria, Un ...more

Other books in the series

The Road to Nowhere (3 books)
  • The Book of Etta (The Road to Nowhere #2)
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