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Red Clocks

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  9,430 Ratings  ·  1,716 Reviews
Five women. One question. What is a woman for?

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surround
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published January 16th 2018 by Little, Brown and Company
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Alex Meeks I found the narrative style fairly choppy and difficult at first, but watching the storylines of the five women become more closely woven was a very…moreI found the narrative style fairly choppy and difficult at first, but watching the storylines of the five women become more closely woven was a very satisfying part of this book. By the end, I was enthralled and was sad to see the last page of the book. I'm more satisfied by the storylines themselves, and the overarching (and terrifyingly relevant) themes of male supremacy and patriarchy (and how women and girls must learn to cope with them). I loved this book and think it's worth continuing through the difficulty of the quickly-shifting POVs, because that difficulty makes it so much more satisfying by the end.(less)
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Emily May
I guess we can probably expect more of these weird feminist(?) dystopias in the wake of The Handmaid's Tale's Hulu series. Between this and the superhero-movie-turned-superhero-book trend, you can pretty much predict the new book trends based on what's popular on the big and small screens.

Here, Zumas imagines a United States where the Personhood Amendment gives rights to unborn embryos, outlawing abortion and IVF (because said embryos cannot give consent). The Canadian government assist by erect
Red Clocks can be described as a dystopian novel, but it feels entirely contemporary. Instead of creating a far-off dystopian society, Leni Zumas picks up on trends in our current political climate and thinks them through. What are the consequences of making abortion illegal in the US? How does a woman trying to have a baby on her own navigate a world in which in vitro fertilization is banned and only married couples are allowed to adopt? Where do larger concepts of woman- and motherhood come in ...more
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
DNFed at 20%.

I just couldn't get into it!
Just wanted to recommend this book to people struggling with recent political events. I pretty much ONLY feel like reading feminist dystopian fiction at this point, but this is a rare example of a book in that genre that retains a sliver of ever-more elusive hope. This book is also, in comparison to other recent examples in the genre, compellingly down to earth and credible - now even more so - as the author based its premise on actual legislation proposed by the likes of those currently empower ...more
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
All sorts of things are all over the place. I'm supposed to decipher it? Really? Overall this didn't feel like a readable material. At all. DNF. I don't want to torture myself with it anymore. It's probably very forward and front-looking and experimental and feminist and corresponds to a bunch of other buzz-words, still it's incomprehensible. It's like a bunch of books got intermixed along with some other material, probably (including oversized to-do lists, random thoughts and all sorts of note ...more
Ron Charles
“Red Clocks” might sound like a dystopian novel, but plenty of conservative politicians are plotting to make it a work of nonfiction. In fact, the author, Leni Zumas, has said that she drew the most frightening details of her story’s misogynistic world from “actual proposals” by men who are currently in control of our government.

Such is the state of affairs in the early 21st century. Feminist writers of speculative fiction don’t need the bizarre rituals of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 classic, “The Ha
Elyse Walters
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about
“Red Clocks”....
...disturbing issues ...
...disturbing ‘choice’ vagina dialogues
...yet all in the context of brilliance- timely & important.

My review reflects my thoughts and feelings which came from reading “Red Clocks”.

I admire the creative writing style: seriously I do, but it was challenging for me to feel a close intimate connection to the women and their stories. I wanted to feel them deeper in my gut - not just intellectualize their situations. I did a few
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I could go on, and on, and on, and on about this book, but really the most important thing I can say is that this is now an all-time favorite. It is absolutely brilliant, and I expect to see it not only on "Best Books of the Year" lists, but also "Best Books of the Decade." It's that good.

We follow five different women whose lives interweave in a small coastal town in Oregon. Their world, though very similar to our own, has passed a "Personhood Amendment" recognizing fetuses as full citizens. Th
”The sea does not ask permission or wait for instruction. It doesn’t suffer from not knowing what on earth, exactly, it is meant to do. Today its walls are high, white lather torn, crashing hard at the sea stacks. ‘Angry sea,’ people say, but to the biographer the ascribing of human feeling to a body so inhumanly itself is wrong. The water heaves up for reasons they don’t have names for.”

”She was just quietly teaching history when it happened. Woke up one morning to a president-elect she had
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I can see why this is getting so much coverage after the recent tv success of The Handmaid's Tale coinciding with a veritable flood of news coverage that has highlighted the position of women as second class citizens all over the world. Inevitably, books which use this kind of near-future/dystopia to address contemporary issues, eg The Power, are going to be the next big thing.

The problem is that that's how this book feels, like it was written as an experiment to fill a publishing hole- while t
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I circled around this book for a long time, not wanting to read another dystopian breeder novel. But I eventually decided to try it, and I'm glad I did. Told through multiple perspectives (all female), this is a near future dystopia with very probably legislation that outlaws abortion, IVF, and adoption outside of straight married couples for the entire country. The female characters are known first as these new archetypes - the Mender, the Wife, the Biographer, the Daughter, etc. As the story u ...more
Jun 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arc, dystopia
My thoughts on this are all jumbled up; I thought I would adore this and it is not a bad book by any means but it took me three months to finish this. I could just not get on board and I am not quite sure where my problems lie.

I love the plausibility of the world Leni Zumas has created here, it feels organic in a way that is scary and frustrating. Set in the not so distant future, reproductive rights have been severely limited: abortion is illegal in all and every circumstances (and in fact cons
RED CLOCKS by Leni Zumas - Thank you so much to Little, Brown and Company for providing my free copy - all opinions are my own.

This novel is outstanding! I have not read another book like this. Yes, it’s feminist—in the sense that these women rule their own lives within the confines of the law. Yes, it’s dystopian—in the sense that these same laws are not in effect in the United States today. But, this story was the most realistic dystopian novel I’ve ever read.

Red Clocks takes place in the ne
Well, I am going to admit I was a little skeptical of this book going in. Any book that draws comparisons to The Handmaids Tale is bound to come off second best in my experience. Last years "female dystopia" de jour The Power just didn't do it for me, so I was a little worried for Red Clocks.

However, I needn't have worried, Red Clocks is a beautifully written, gloriously weird and at times funny character study of five women. This world that Zumas has created feels very much like the world we li
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Red Clocks is a quietly dystopian novel. There has been no war, no plague, no machine gunning down of the senate. Instead, the world Zumas creates is eerily similar to our own. All that has changed is a pro-life government signed a bill into law while the majority of the country sat at home and thought it could never happen. Sound familiar? Uncomfortable yet? Red Clocks feels eerily possible and that possibility is the novel’s strength. Speculative fiction is best when you believe we could take ...more
Jan 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
How weird to be reading this book on my least-favorite commuting day of the year, when the annual March for Life is held in DC and I have to resist the urge to yell at people to get the eff out of my way on the Metro.

This is getting billed as a dystopian novel to cash in on Handmaid hysteria, but it's really not that much of a stretch from our current environment, given that abortion access is being so severely curtailed in many states. The leaders of Zumas' world, though, have taken it a step
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a bit to figure out how this book worked. But once I did, I liked it. It's a story about a VERY possible near future where single women can't adopt, or get in vitro, and no one can get safe abortions because they're illegal. So basically, it's the US pre-1973. And that is frightening.
Lark Benobi
Apr 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Red Clocks was one of those rare, very-pretty-good reads for me. Zumas creates women with lovely endearing individuality and humaneness. I was concerned for their welfare and wanted them to turn out to have happy lives, almost to the degree that I feel about characters in Kent Haruf's novels. On the downside the characters's story arcs were not particularly interesting and their reactions to menstrual-related events never strayed much beyond the obvious, with the exception of the mender, whom I ...more
Book of the Month
The Handmaid's Tale for Our Generation
By Judge Cristina Arreola

Don’t let the pink and red cover fool you. Red Clocks is no romance or “beach read.” Instead, it is a frightening dystopian novel about what happens when politicians successfully manage to push back on women’s reproductive rights little by little, until none are left at all.

In Lena Zumas’s near-future America, The Personhood Amendment has made both abortion and in-vitro fertilization illegal, and the Every Child Needs Two Act is abou
Colleen Fauchelle
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-books
This is a story of 5 woman there day to day life, their dreams and goals, there desires and struggles. The chapter headings are The Daughter, The Mender, The Wife, The Biographer, The explorer, It shows what they are seems more important that who they are. You only find out their names by other characters in the book using them.
It's a book about what makes a family and it is saying you need two adults to have a child. It also talks about the rights of the ity bity baby in its first few weeks of
A note: I received my M.A. from Portland State (where Leni teaches) and while I do not know her personally, many of my M.F.A. colleagues speak highly of her.

Red Clocks is a dystopian novel, though I could see this future happening with a few wrong turns. Similar to The Handmaid's Tale, women find themselves in an inequitable society where the Personhood Amendment has granted rights to embryos, IVF is illegal, and of course, abortion is universally banned.

This novel features an experimental writ
Gumble's Yard
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
“Red Clocks” by Leni Zumas

I had heard about this novel as part of the speculation leading up to the 2018 Women’s Prize – and was surprised not to see it longlisted. My perception was that it was a dystopian and political novel – very much in the spirit of The Handmaid's Tale (or The Power).

In fact the book surprised me in a number of ways:

Firstly in how little a “stretch” there was to the alternative world portrayed;
Secondly by how autobiographical it was;
Thirdly in being at heart more about r
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A few months ago, I read about this upcoming title and had to have it immediately. Luckily through NetGalley I received an ARC. This book is definitely worth the hype and I hope its popularity continues to grow exponentially. Due to the subject matter, Red Clocks is reminiscent of The Handmaid's Tale and other dystopian feminist works; male-supremacist legislation, reversal of Roe v. Wade, illegal abortions, etc. Yet, Zumas succeeds at writing an original, thought-provoking story that deeply res ...more
Damn, I really wanted to love this book. The premise is obviously timely and appropriate, and the book had a lot of hype. But I just didn't care for it.

The unnamed character thing seemed unnecessary. It reminded me of Annihilation - four women characters, all unnamed (I can hear the conversation now: "Hey! Instead of a BIOLOGIST, let's have your main character be a BIOGRAPHER!") and I really hope having a bunch of unnamed women characters is not going to become a trend in near-future dystopian
Eric Anderson
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I recently heard that Leni Zumas’ new novel “Red Clocks” was partly inspired by Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves” I felt I had to read it. I love Woolf’s poetically-charged novel so much and it’s lived with me for so many years I feel like it’s a part of my body and soul. The plot of Zumas’ novel doesn’t directly relate to Woolf’s writing but it gives several nods to it and pays tribute to her predecessor so part of the great pleasure of reading this book was knowing I was in the company of a fe ...more
Alice Lippart
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
Incredibly interesting topic. Loved the characters and the writing style (although I see how not everyone would love it).
Jessica Woodbury
I have seen a significant uptick in the "feminist dystopia" genre in the last year, but RED CLOCKS is the first book to fall into this category that feels fully realized and fully successful to me.

It took me a little while to get going, to understand how the characters fit together, and to see how the structure of the book was going to work. But once I was oriented I found myself getting deeply absorbed. I read this book on the sidelines of t-ball practice, with people and kids running all arou
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars

This book so reminds me of When She Woke by Hillary Jordan.

Zumas takes a stab at a future world where abortion is illegal, IVF is banned and adoption is restricted to couples only. We follow 4 women, and a fifth only through an historical written narrative, in a small coastal town in Oregon.

Having passed a Personhood Amendment which recognizes embryos as full citizens, women who seek abortion are convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. Zumas tries to capture the essence of such an
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author presents a horrifying possible future when abortions are illegal, and Canada supports the US in preventing women from determining whether or not to maintain a pregnancy. The author follows four different women, with each chapter switching from one character's point of view to another, weaving each character's experiences with the other three women. No one is particularly likeable, and the writing style can be a little choppy, but this was an interesting read. And unfortunately, terrib ...more
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 stars

Written in a world allegedly in the future, fetuses have rights and abortion is outlawed. It doesn't sound too far fetched to me, it could be describing any given era in one country or another. Society and religion trying to define, corralle and impose its own rules on women and their bodies and their personal rights. This is a wonderfully written and very dark look at one towns women and their red clocks under a new regime.

"...need to ask you to wear masks during the drive.”
The biographe
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Final Round
3,537,198 Votes Cast
Leni Zumas is the author of RED CLOCKS (Little, Brown, 2018); THE LISTENERS (Tin House, 2012); and FAREWELL NAVIGATOR: STORIES (Open City, 2008). She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is Director of Creative Writing at Portland State University.
“What does the word “spinster” do that “bachelor” doesn’t do? Why do they carry different associations? These are language acts, people!” 8 likes
“She knew—it was her job as a teacher of history to know—how many horrors are legitimated in public daylight, against the will of most of the people.” 7 likes
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