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Before She Sleeps

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  694 ratings  ·  151 reviews
In modern, beautiful Green City, the capital of South West Asia, gender selection, war and disease have brought the ratio of men to women to alarmingly low levels. The government uses terror and technology to control its people, and women must take multiple husbands to have children as quickly as possible.

Yet there are women who resist, women who live in an underground col
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Delphinium
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3.41  · 
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 ·  694 ratings  ·  151 reviews

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Karla Strand
See the full review on my website: From Reluctance to Rebellion: A Review of Bina Shah’s BEFORE SHE SLEEPS

Before She Sleeps by Bina Shah

Green City in South West Asia is lush, modern, and hi-tech – a model of beauty and prosperity. The air is clean. Women are provided for and protected. There are good citizenship classes and robotic doormen.

Green City also has DNA security scanners. It has assigned marriages and women must take multiple husbands. As “the mothers of the new nation,” they are responsible for repopulating soci
Anum Shaharyar
Literature in Pakistan has seen its fair share of representation in certain circles: books about terrorism and religion are easy to find — and apparently easier to write — since the country can provide such fertile ground for characters and plot lines within these genres to flourish. Much harder to tackle are topics within comedy, horror or, in the case of Bina Shah’s newest offering Before She Sleeps, dystopian fiction. Yet Shah does it with aplomb, her book being a sharp, smart reply to that q ...more
Tatiana Dengo
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mighty-girls
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Before She Sleeps is another version of how a male-dominated society (in this case known as “Green City”) would approach the problem posited in the The Handmaid’s Tale: there’s a lot less women capable of giving birth than before, what do we do now? Just like in Gilead, women in Green City are stripped of all humanity, free will, and power, and are treated as nothing more than walking wombs (in this case known simply as "W
Jennifer Gaarder
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it

Please read my reviews at

Before She Sleeps By Bina Shah

Delphinium, August 7, 2018

247 Pages, Hardcover Edition

From Goodreads:

"In modern, beautiful Green City, the capital of South West Asia, gender selection, war, and disease have brought the ratio of men to women to alarmingly low levels. The government uses terror and technology to control its people, and women must take multiple husbands to have children as quickly as possible.

There are women who resist, women who live in a
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
The population has been decimated by war and sickness, and few women are left in Green City. To solve the problem men created the Perpetuation Bureau, and women now have a single purpose in life: to be a Wife and have as many children as possible with her multiple husbands. Not becoming a Wife is a crime, but a place called the Panah offers sanctuary to women who refuse to live by the rules of this draconian system. Instead they come out at night, offering carefully selected men something they c ...more
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
The latest in the increasingly popular feminist dystopian genre and quite a good one. The world of the near future has been torn and restructured by a global war in the Levant and particularly South West Asia, where the book takes place. Green City is an artificial creation of terraforming a desert to become a suitable place to live, but after a large number of the female population dies out the new austerity rules come into play. The surviving women become essentially breeding machines with mul ...more
Nadine Jones
This was okay. Each time I set it down, I didn't really want to pick it up again. The story just wasn't going anywhere, and all of the characters felt very flat.

One hundred years in the future, after surviving a global nuclear war, society has fractured and re-formed, and naturally the thumb screws have been put to the few remaining women.

Women are assigned to four or five, or more, husbands, fated to be perpetually pregnant, and the men are left feeling emotionally neglected. Which opens up a
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
**Thank you to NetGalley and Delphinium Books for a free e-copy of Before She Sleeps in exchange for an honest review.**

This dystopian thriller is set in a time where war and disease have decimated the female population. In order to restore the population, women are made to take on multiple husbands and bear as many children as possible with the help of fertility drugs. However, in Green City, there's an underground group of women who refuse to abide by the these rules. They only emerge at night
A feminist dystopia by a Pakistani writer. Many centuries in the future – after a few nuclear wars and breakdown of religions – the greatest crisis in the world is the "Gender Emergency", a mutated HPV virus that swept across the globe and killed off the vast majority of women without harming the men. In Green City the government has responded by elevating the remaining women to a high status. They're pampered and wealthy, it's a capital crime to physically harm them, and they're given anything ...more
Patricia Romero
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopian, fiction
Sound familiar? From Pakistan author Bina Shah comes this look at a dystopian world where men have ruined everything with war and now the women must pay the price. Much like The Handmaid's Tale, the women are secluded. They are here to re-populate the world. And that is all. The women are repressed, treated like breeding stock and must take multiple husbands and keep on giving birth.

It is a patriarchal society and women have no rights.

But in every repressive regime, there are those women who jus
Autumn Is Azathoth
Review: BEFORE SHE SLEEPS by Bina Shah

BEFORE SHE SLEEPS is a work of feminist Dystopian futuristic science fiction. If this is the Future, I'm not going there. There is so much hubris in this story. The "Green City," constructed in a Desert (like the Hubris of Las Vegas and Dubai), the hubris of the patriarchs, thinking they can control women's bodies and lives (and do so all too efficiently), effectively utilizing women as breeders to propagate the populace {a common practice in Dystopian liter
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
I had such high hopes for this one!

(Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Netgalley. Trigger warning for violence against women, including rape.)

When I got to the Panah, I was unused to the sight of women’s bodies not swollen and distorted by pregnancy. It seemed wrong, at first, as if something was missing. It took me months to realize that a woman’s stomach wasn’t always convex; that its default state was not always filled with another being.

DNF at 59%, because life is to
I was transported away by this gorgeously written dystopian novel by fellow Wellesley alumna, Bina Shah, and will be thinking about its themes for awhile to come.

"What else, in the end, truly binds us together, besides the desire for each other to be free?"
Meg - A Bookish Affair
3.5 stars. In Green City, it is the job of every woman to take as many husbands as the government allows and to have as many babies (hopefully many female babies) as they can in order to overcome the gender crisis that has left Green City with many more men than women. It is very mechanical and there is not much room for love and affection. The women of the underground fulfill the need for touch and affection of the non-intimate kind but when one of the powerful men that employ their services go ...more
Hannie Han Han
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Knowing nothing about this book besides the fact that it was written by a fellow Wellesley grad and another Wellesley grad said she couldn’t put it down, I dove into this book and have enjoyed every moment of reading it, even the ones that made me feel queasy. Bina Shah does an excellent job of creating a futuristic world that is believable with characters of incredible depth and complexity. When the book ended I was sad to leave it. I hope she writes a sequel.
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Before She Sleeps features an interesting enough society that is, unfortunately, not expanded upon enough because the focus of the novel is on the characters’ reactions to the world rather than the world itself.

It’s always a disappointment when an author chooses to focus solely on the characters at the expense of the world building. Dystopian novels like these excel when they’re grounded in a solid world. Whether the world building is believable from a realistic viewpoint is irrelevant as long
Iqra Cheema
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was really excited to read this one since this is the first dystopic semi-sci-fi feminist novel from Pakistan. Overall, this is well written. But it left me wanting a little something extra... the characters were not satisfactorily developed, and the events read a little rushed in most chapters. Futuristic setting of the novel feels forced with excessive explanations of the future-bureaucratic and medical terms -- as if the writer herself does not believe the world that she has created in the ...more
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dystopian
In a future world, due to illness and war the population is dying out. To circumvent this problem, the men in charge decide that women's ONLY goal is to bring new babies into the world. To accomplish this, each woman is required to have multiple husbands. The husbands treat their wife well and buy her whatever she wants but her main goal is to become pregnant and bring new life into their world. What the new rulers of this world chose to ignore is that they have taken something vital from women ...more
D. W. Andrews
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Characters: 4
Setting: 4

What I liked best: the emotional depth of the characters

What I liked least: shifting POV narrative + time jumps

Recommended: Y

The book is marketed as dystopian feminist literature. But as a person not in possession of a uterus; my qualifications as a feminist are zilch. So allow me to rate it from the opposite gender perspective.

Bina has created a world deep and immersive with characters you deeply empathize with. But what struck me, as a man, is how accurately she d
I'm not going to say this was terrible, but man, it was pretty terrible. All telling, no showing; and the telling made no sense in the set up and explanation. (I'm perpetually frustrated by post-apocalyptic works that only use that as a window dressing, without trying to make it really work. It's a crisis of dilettantes these days).

There were some nice moments, but the plot was paper-thin and utterly fell apart by partway through. I don't recommend this one.
Great Start, Bumpy End

This book was not something I would have normally picked up to read (shout out to my book club for getting me out of my comfort zone) but I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed it. I thought the beginning was great and I really enjoyed the world Bina Shah created.

That being said, the story lost me towards the end. The ending was a little disappointing for me; it felt rushed and forced.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
thoughts coming shortly
Leigh Anne
Sep 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Different lens, same dystopia.

Of course, the lens is what makes the difference. It would be easy, in book-talking this work, to say, "Oh, it's a South Asian version of The Handmaid's Tale. The problem is, that description would still center Western values, and Shah's work candidly probes what oppressing women might look like in a culture that's already given grief for oppressing women (usually by Westerners who don't fully grok just how much they themselves are oppressing women).

Instead, let the
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
First of all, this book gave me serious The Handmaid’s Tale vibes, which I read last summer and was stunned by it. It was amazing, it was well written and it made me think - quite a lot.

Bina Shah’s Before She Sleeps is a dystopian sci-fi novel that follows a story of Sabine, an illegal in the Green City, the capital of South West Asia, where wars, diseases and gender selection has brought the man to woman ration to dangerously low levels. Now women are forced to take multiple husbands and are fo
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
Jul 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A virus has seriously affected human population. Even though men and women get infected equally, it is only deadly for the later with the consequence that the number of female citizens has drastically been diminished. Thus, in Green City, women are assigned several husbands and closely monitored to keep the number of children born as high as possible. This is the single task for them and there is no alternative to functioning as a kind of human breeder. But some women just don’t want to comply w ...more
Jul 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
“Plant your future.”
Bina Shah’s words that, to me, defined this novel.
Shah kept that sentiment at the forefront.
Fight for yourself, fight for your community, “Plant your future.”
Rebellion sustained intelligently and carefully by Green Cities strongest women: we readers are taken through every complex move made by our protagonists.
We feel every tight jolt of anticipation as they are forced to live off grid, underground and, in a sick twist of fate, must rely on the men who built their prison.
Alaina Mcnamara
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
So I’m going to start by admitting I am only three thirds of the way through the book but hear me out, I’m a mother and a student and currently writing my dissertation 😊

Please continue to read this review as I promise it’s worth it!

In a futuristic world torn apart by war, and disease affecting only women, procreation has been drastically altered compared to the life their predecessors once knew. A group of women find themselves distance from what has now become the current ‘norm’ and this book
Jun 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shah’s created a harsh world for women to be alive in, and in this thought experiment she explores how power and powerful men might become enmeshed with state-sponsored violence, government control over individual bodies, and a concurrent wish for freedom from that brutalizing system.

Engaging story and a peek into what it might be like in repressive future.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Disturbing (it is meant to be), well-written, characters you like (and don't).
I assume this was meant to be a new, science fiction take on The Handmaid's Tale. While I enjoyed the setting and structure, I think the conflict and the climax felt a little bit messy.
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