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Blue Ticket

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Discover this chilling new novel about motherhood and personhood, free will and fate, human longing and animal instinct

Calla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you've taken your ticket, there is no going back.

But what if the life you're given is the wrong one?

Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.

286 pages, Hardcover

First published June 30, 2020

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About the author

Sophie Mackintosh

13 books685 followers
Sophie Mackintosh was born in South Wales in 1988, and is currently based in London. Her fiction, essays and poetry have been published by Granta, The White Review, The New York Times and The Stinging Fly, among others. Her short story ‘Grace’ was the winner of the 2016 White Review Short Story Prize, and her story ‘The Running Ones’ won the Virago/Stylist Short Story competition in 2016.

Sophie’s debut novel The Water Cure was published by Hamish Hamilton in the UK in Spring 2018 and by Doubleday in the US in early 2019 to critical acclaim, and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

Her second novel Blue Ticket will be published in Spring 2020.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,342 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,073 reviews38.2k followers
August 23, 2021
Oh no! For a long time I didn’t give any book two stars and I didn’t get disappointed by a book but well you cannot always get what you wish for.

For celebrating empowerment of women I chose this reading for this special day and of course that beautiful, haunted, effective cover stole my heart from the first look but as soon as I flip the pages and try to get lost in this dystopian, disturbing, eerie story, I didn’t get the special and rare taste that I was looking for.

Maybe I wanted to be charmed by some special world with its authoritarian manifesto, ruled by a group of despots force the women doing choice without their free-will and consent kind of earth shattering, thought-provoking reading. Especially when I read the promotions indicate this book is some kind of smart Atwood-ish masterpiece, it made me more curious and I couldn’t wait to get this into my hands.But there are too many things failed me in this book which are:

-Lack of world-building: I got that story takes place in a dystopian alternated universe and when the girls start to menstruate, they’re taken to the hospital to be checked and join the lottery to get their card which will define their future. There are two types of future determined by two different colored tickets.

BLUE TICKET means they’re free because they’re not going to mothers!! They can work and they can contribute to the system.

WHITE TICKET means they are not free anymore. They’re gonna be mothers and wives.
Well, sorry but this kind of logic didn’t make any sense of me so from the start, my head filled with tons of question marks and as you may imagine I couldn’t find any proper world-building and of course dialogue-less story-telling style and sharp endings of the chapters, lack of curiosity and mystery are the other factors I couldn’t have any connection with the story’s progression. I also didn’t give a damn about the drama of heroine’s whirlwind life story.

I think writing about powerful motherhood and having your own free will about your body and reproductive system are popular trends for strengthening the feminism manifesto and emphasizing the place the women deserve in the world by putting spotlight of their crucial problems. But I found this book’s approach to the matter and writing style lack of emotions, dull and flat.

So I designated myself a lonely place in the minority by being not big fan of this book.

Special thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for sharing this ARC with me in exchange my honest review. I wish I could enjoy it because I was so excited to read this from the beginning but unfortunately it didn’t fulfill my expectations.

Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
746 reviews1,112 followers
August 6, 2020
I should have listened to my intuition and skipped this one. I couldn't though. I loved Sophie Mackintosh's The Water Cure so much that I had to read her new book.

I'm sorry to say I found it boring.

It's a book about women's choice to choose and is set in (probably) present day England. The majority of women are not allowed to have babies though we are never told the reason. 

A lottery determines who will have a procedure to stop them from getting pregnant, and who will be forced to have babies.

The young girls get no input. They simply receive either a white ticket - baby making material - or a blue ticket - nope, you're not allowed to pass on your DNA. 

Perhaps those who are mothers, or who want to be, will find this more enjoyable than I did. I couldn't relate to the characters at all in their longing for a child. 

The story follows Calla, a blue ticket holder who figures out how she can get pregnant. She then has to go on the run to try to escape the authorities and cross the border into another country.

Along the way she meets a couple other blue ticket holders who also want babies. We witness as Calla falls in love with the growing life inside her, thinks about her pregnancy and the changes in her body, blah blah blah. 

Like I said, boring. 

There is one twist to the story that made the end a little more interesting, but that's not enough to salvage the book.

Another gripe -- what the heck is it with smoking??? For a while, books and movies and tv shows did not promote it but now the characters smoke in just about every movie and tv show, and this book? It being about pregnant women you would think smoking isn't constantly in your face - but it is. Even the doctors smoke. This pisses me off. If it's based on a real life character who smoked, then OK, have her/him light up occasionally. In this book just about everyone smokes and they're all fictional characters.

I find this unethical. We know how dangerous smoking is and how addictive. It is not cool. It kills. People suffocate to death from COPD. Yes, many people still smoke; it's extremely difficult to break the addiction. Because of that, fictional characters should not be promoting it, making it seem cool and simply what everyone does. Encouraging young people to pick up this habit/addiction. Shame on authors and movie/tv producers who do this.

So... do I recommend this book? Sure, if you identify with women who want desperately to have a baby and enjoy a bit of dystopia. And if you like books without any dialogue and that read like a boring diary, without any explanation as to why things are the way they are.

For everyone else, you can probably safely skip this one. I wish I had.
Profile Image for Roman Clodia.
2,362 reviews2,301 followers
February 26, 2020
The thing is, bookshops are over-packed with 'feminist dystopias' obsessing about babies and motherhood. Yes, reproductive rights remain a contested issue but Atwood nailed the topic and this feels like one of many, many also rans. I loved the twisted fairy tale aura of The Water Cure but this feels unoriginal in comparison. It's hard to buy into the simplistic premise that has minimal world-building to convince and the writing is merely workmanlike. Overall, this lacks conviction and energy: disappointingly flabby with little tension or drive.

ARC from NetGalley
Profile Image for Emily B.
419 reviews414 followers
March 9, 2021
I was really excited about this book and I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I heard about it.

Much like when reading ‘The Water Cure’ I easily found myself immersed in the world that Sophie Mackintosh creates. I love that you never really know where it’s set or what year it is.
However, another part of me is dying for more information. Specially regarding the lottery and the blue and white tickets.

I’ve read other books regarding the issue of fertility and women’s reproductive rights but found this to be better and more interesting than the others I’ve read.
Profile Image for Ceecee.
1,860 reviews1,374 followers
May 19, 2020
3-4 stars

This is Calla’s story, in an unnamed country, place or time. She lives with her father until her first menstruation and then is taken with other girls to The Lottery where she receives a blue ticket which is placed inside a locket. She is also painfully fitted with an IUD coil and dispatched to the city to live a childless life of freedom. White ticket girls go on to be able to produce children. The states will is enforced by Emissaries so there is no way of avoiding your fate. She eventually works in a lab and very much like a lab rat she has to tell her thoughts to Dr A. However, Calla has other ideas about her destiny and she’s out to make her own choices. This leads to punishment and banishment and a dangerous journey to try to get to the border and freedom. Along the way she meets a few other women in a similar situation. Calla is the storyteller.

This is a very strange, possibly even weird book and it’s very unsettling. Calla narrates the story in an unstructured way which I imagine is deliberate as in every other way in this world there is rigid structure. However, that makes it hard to read. Calla is very difficult to understand and she makes it very hard to empathise. She seems robotic, almost dead externally but internally she is something else which is very dark and unfathomable. She appears to have no maternal instincts whatsoever so her desire to have a child either comes from some baser instinct over which she has no control or is an act of rebellion. She is told she can’t have a child so sets about demonstrating that it’s her choice to do so. She’s very disconnected and even with Dr A with whom she has something resembling a relationship she’s playing some sort of game to her own rules. This is a harsh, clinical book of a dystopian world and it’s unrelenting with no soft edges. As you read you have so many questions to which there are no answers - this is the way it is in this place, there is no perceived rationale.

Overall, this is probably a Marmite book that some will not like and others who will admire the idea and the way it is written. It’s very hard to find any empathy because Calla doesn’t let you. At its heart it’s about lack of choice and free will as Calla sets out to prove that it is her body and her decision to do with it what she wills. It’s a very different book which has to be a positive.
Profile Image for Lexi.
440 reviews165 followers
June 30, 2020
This is...not fun to read. I DNF'd about halfway through and couldn't force myself to continue.

Reasons you would enjoy Blue Ticket

- You don't like characters or characters talking
- You are interested in hearing a single character tell you she's sad, but like, for the whole book
- You are bored by things like "world building" or "character interactions".

Imagine picking up a diary written by someone from what I would call a mild dystopia. That's it. That's the book. When you are a teenager, you are given a ticket that will determine whether you are childless or will bare children. The set up to the book and the reason for the dystopia is purposefully vague for what I assume is dramatic affect, but mostly comes off as frustrating. There is almost no dialogue. Most of this story is a woman walking us through her life with minimal details. The book hops time regularly within chapters (which will sometimes be multiple pages of monologues describing the way the character feels about an everyday situation)

I just found this ton be a frustrating execution of a concept that I was thrilled to read. If you like poetry or "artsy" books that are extremely limited in character interaction, maybe this will work for you. I don't usually DNF this quickly without a reason, and my reason was I was bored to tears and about as compelled by the characters and universe as I am to go to work every day. It was tedious and somehow, for a dark feminist dystopia, boring. Like listening to your un happy friend repeat her two problems to you for 4 hours straight.

You can read a million good dystopias out there, so why waste your time with this?
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
1,966 reviews1,387 followers
July 15, 2020
There are two paths a girl can take in life, and both are governed by a lottery. A white ticket will see her with a baby, a husband, and a loving home. A blue ticket will see this future disallowed to her and she will be cast out into the world to make for herself what she can. For the teen girls who receive their lottery ticket the latter feels like freedom, but to some of the women they become it feels more like a nightmare.

Calla is one such woman. She spends her days at repetitive work and her nights sipping overly sweet wine until the edges of reality blur and fade to black altogether only for a new day to begin and herald a repeat of all those that came before. She is looking for something that can’t be found in strings of men and women, the cigarettes she chain smokes, or the empty bottles that litter her spare apartment. She is looking for the one future the blue ticket held inside her locket forbids her from.

I appreciated how this unsettling dystopian tale opened up ideas of femininity and motherhood, and how the two are often wrongly interlinked. The women denied the latter are over-sexualised and sold a shallow way of living that kept meaningful conversation and loving contact at bay. The white ticket women are overly-protected from this but are coddled and cosseted in the domestic sphere, instead. Maybe some are happy with their fate, but most are too brain-washed into thinking no other future is viable, for them to begin to question that.

Whilst I adored all this novel set out to do and the startlingly bleak future reality constructed, I found the concept was both the nexus and the entire focus of the novel. This was a largely slow-paced, personal character study of the protagonist, that used one individual’s plight to speak volumes for the untold number of women just like her. It was quite like the renowned The Handmaid’s Tale in that respect. Whilst I understand why the focus was so introspective and individualised I also longed for something else. Only I’m not exactly sure what it was that was missing for me, personally.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Sophie Mackintosh, and the publisher, Penguin, for this opportunity.
May 15, 2020
This book is seriously disturbing.

This book is feminism nightmare fuel.

I finished this book at 4 in the morning because I needed it to be over and there was no possible way of DNFing it because I just needed it to be cleansed from my headspace, out of my soul.

The only way out was through.

If "The Road" and "Handmaid's Tale" got together and had a baby, this is what it looks like. Both stories, in comparison, feel a million times more uplifting then this dark, twisted, traumatizing brood.

You know how people always have that one episode of Black Mirror that hits just too close to home? It's not even entertaining, it just twists you up inside. This was one of those episodes for me. A dystopian hellscape that's not farfetched enough - it has the potential to be seen in our lifetimes.

What if women didn't have a choice between a career and a family? What if that choice was made when you were a child? If the government had autonomy over a woman's body completely, telling them who can and cannot get pregnant? What if a woman decided she wanted more for herself and rebelled, sending her out on the lam with little understanding of what was about to happen to her?

I was desperate for a glint of humanity in this dark void, pit of despair story. Something to give me hope that if this tyrannical form of existence came to fruition, there was a shred of decency that would somehow live on. Alas, there was very little. Reading this felt like watching a puppy get kicked. Just really upsetting, lingering bad feelings.

If I had a physical copy of this book I would bury it in my yard and dance on its grave. Then I would go inside and drink a cup of tea, hands shaking, telling myself it's going to be ok, it can't hurt you anymore.

Somebody get me a rom-com, a DIY for knitters, a book about a unicorn, a calendar of sexy firemen playing with kittens. A beer. Something to cleanse my palette and get this soul-sucking, paranoia inducing shitshow out of my system.

Obviously, 5 stars. Because not everyday a book rocks you to your core enough to make you want to seek revenge on an inanimate object.

Thank you to netgalley for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for A. Raca.
714 reviews139 followers
December 2, 2020
Yakın zamanda Su Kürü'nü de okuduğum yazarın bu kitabı da kadın üzerine bir distopya. Öncekini de taze okuduğum için ister istemez kıyaslıyorum ve Mavi Bilet kurgusal olarak daha başarılı bence.
Genç kadınlar ilk adetlerini gördükten sonra bir kuraya giriyorlar ve hayatları hakkında karar veriliyor. Ya evlilik, çocuk, aile kurmak üzerine beyaz bilet veyahut iş, kariyer üzerine mavi bilet. Diğer gruptan bir şey istemek yasak, sana çizilen hayatı yaşayacaksın.
İşte karakterimiz isteklerini görmezden gelemiyor.
Yazar yine sonunu tam toparlayamamış gibi ama açık uçlu bırakarak kararı bize bırakıyor. Mutlu son mu yoksa hazin mi?

3,5 ⭐
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,718 reviews1,157 followers
August 27, 2020
Published today 27/08/2020

That’s how your life becomes a set thing, written and unchangeable. It was an object that did not really belong to me, and to wish for any other was a fallacy at best, treasonous at worst.

Blue ticket: Don’t underestimate the relief of a decision being taken away from you.

Blue ticket: I was not motherly. It had been judged that it wasn’t for me by someone who knew better than I did.

Blue ticket: There was lack in my brain, my body, my soul, or some thing. There was a flaw I should not pass on. A warmth I was missing.

Blue ticket: My life was precious enough as it was. I wasn’t to be risked.

Blue ticket: Some called it a noble sacrifice, others a mercy. It meant a different thing every time I thought about it.

Years were frenetic, then calmer. They ticked with the inevitability of a metronome, some fallow and some interesting. Things could happen to a blue ticket woman the way they might not for a white ticket. Spirit of adventure. In practice, life felt smaller than that expansiveness promised.

The author’s debut novel “Water Cure” was longlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize. The book received mixed reviews from those who follow the prize – a lot of it in my view based around the book not matching reader’s expectations due to its marketing as a feminist dystopia as well as many readers preconceptions/biases of what a feminist dystopia should portray.

From my review of that book “like many dystopias takes an element of the observed world and extrapolates in an imagined but imaginable way. In this case, the book proceeds from toxic masculinity and takes it to a literary as well as literal conclusion ………….. unlike many other dystopias which explore .. their central idea and its implications - here [the central] idea … represents more of a starting point for a book which is light on exposition and heavy on ambiguity."

I also compared the book to “The Red Clocks” by Leni Zumas a book which as I said in my review of that book was “more about relationships between women explored within a patriarchal/misogynistic world rather than just exploring the structure of that patriarchy”.

I suspect, and can see from early reviews, that similar issues may emerge with this book – the blurb from Margaret Atwood (a year after “The Testaments” was published) along with the basic set up which gives the book its title will (and already has) given rise to certain unmet expectations.

The book is told in the first person by Calla – and we start with her around 14, awaiting her first period, a seminal (in more than one sense) moment in any girls life: when this happens they are taken by their parents (in Calla’s case, her widowed father) to a lottery station, where they draw a single ticket issued from a machine (a ticket they believe may be ordained based on your observed character and behaviour until then): a white ticket and they are given the opportunity (and expectation) to have children; a blue ticket and they are given what is seen as freedom from the burden of motherhood: fitted with an IUD, issued with a locket with a blue piece of paper inside, and sent out to make their own way to a City, away from their own family, with only a basic set of supplies.

We then join Call briefly on her years in the City (we later find hints about the dangers faced on the trip to the City – where it seems new Blue Ticket women are open season for assault; how when they arrive they are subject to a battery of tests and told which kind of jobs they are suitable for).

Calla (we realise from the occasional scenes of clarity which appear in her poetically oblique narrative style which characterises this novel) lives a life which is partly constrained and subdued but sometimes with elements of her earlier deliberately provocative/self harmful behaviour “I no longer asked men the age of my father to hit me in the face of stayed up for three days at a time … [but] Sometimes I would still go out looking for trouble”

The book then is told over a twelve month period, 18 years after her lottery, beginning with one of the regular compulsory sessions she has with her Doctor (part physician, part psychologist, part and explainer of societal norms as they apply to blue ticket women, norms enforced by uniformed emissaries).

Calla increasingly is obsessed with obtaining the very thing forbidden to her, not so much because she desires it (her practical knowledge as a blue ticket woman of pregnancy, birth, motherhood seems close to non-existent) but partly because of what she increasingly feels as the hunger and grief of her body for something natural denied to it, and partly (particularly as her Doctor sees it) because of believing an alternative to her current life will deal with her psychological issues.

The narrative then proceeds from her decision to remove her IUD, and get pregnant. When this happens, Doctor A explains that she will be visited at some stage by emissaries, given a survival kit and in a fairly deliberate echo of the first day of a Blue Ticket woman, given a small head start (the length of head start depending on her behaviour up until that point) and then hunted down (with her fate once captured not entirely clear).

This only represents the first quarter or so of the book – the remaining 75% or so is Calla’s post-conception journey.

The author’s own Twitter feed @fairfairisles serves as an excellent summary of what the book becomes

“It's kind of a road trip novel, it's kind of a pregnancy novel, it's full of old hotels, strange doctors, uncanny landscapes and longing”

And the road trip itself introduces the other key character – another pregnant fugitive Marisol, one with a clearer idea of the end-aim of the road trip and one whose interactions with Calla give the book its narrative drive, its poignancy and tenderness, its revelations, its coherence of plot and its resolution.

What we do not get, and what I think will frustrate many readers, especially those nor familiar with the author’s style, is a coherent, Margaret Atwood style, exploration of the dystopia. It would be easy to list the many seeming inconsistencies or omissions in the set up of the world that is described. On one level that would be unfair and based on a misunderstanding of how the book should be read.

But I think the book may also disappoint some of the author’s fans.

In contrast to “The Water Cure” where the inconsistency of the world view was one of the book’s strengths as it lead to the ambiguity (to the reader throughout and to the three girls at the end) of the extent to which the regime imposed on them was actually justified – here the inconsistencies seem to me to serve no purpose: at best they can be ignored and at worst they undermine the story.

I think part of this reason is that “The Water Cure” worked in its isolated island set up – where an artificial set up could be maintained.

And this set up also gave rise to other elements which made the book strong: the dark fairy tale echoes, the Shakespearean elements, the tight interactions between the three sisters, the heavy imagery of water and salt, the earth/water/sky aspects, the environmental concepts. All of those are partly echoed here but to me work less well in their societal and road trip setting.

Where the book does succeed is in retaining the author’s distinct writing style – a kind of fragmentary and elliptical way of creating impression. A style which I enjoy and which would lead me to read her next book

My thanks to Hamish Hamilton for an ARC via NetGalley.

Pain scrunched me up, tiny and ineffectual. Then it opened me up at the ribs, the pelvis, like I was being disarticulated on a butcher’s block. Then it was a horse bolting away from me. It was impossible to get a grip on it.

Soft body learning to be hard on the country roads. Gravel; wet, steaming air in my nostrils. Body of tarmac and hotel rooms and swimming pools and bathrooms and clinics, body of ripped up cuti cles and appetite and sex with people loved and not loved, a body forgiving every bad thing I could do to it. A body always going somewhere. Carrying me onwards. Never letting me down, yet.
Profile Image for Hannah.
585 reviews1,043 followers
August 3, 2020
First things first: Mackintosh’s prose has gotten even better since her debut, which I already enjoyed a lot. There is something mesmerizing about the way she constructs her sentences and I am always in love with her metaphors and allusions. On a sentence-by-sentence level, this is excellent and cemented what I said after reading her debut: I will always be reading what she writes even if this reading experience was uneven for me.

Her depiction of female longing and female friendship worked exceedingly well for me – and I would indeed argue that this is what she is interested in because where this book falters is in its dystopian elements. Calla’s close first person narration is our entry point into the world Mackintosh has created here and as she knows very little about her society, it remains vague and what we learn makes very little sense. While this is arguably true for her debut as well, there I thought the vagueness worked because it was never quite clear if what the protagonists knew was true at all. This time around, this is very obviously a dystopian society and even if Calla does not know why things came about, the consequences are very true for her life. Again, I do not think the dystopian part is Mackintosh’s strength or even what she really set out to write about. Whenever the story focussed on what Calla experienced and on her inner life and struggles, the book shone and I wish that part had been more prevalent throughout. I knew going in that I probably should not expect the dystopia to be ground-breaking in its political machinations, so the book did overall work for me but I can see where other readers might struggle. In the end, I am such a huge fan of Mackintosh’s prose that even as parts did not work for me, overall I did appreciate the book a lot (and it made me cry).

Content warning: pregnancy, vomit, stillbirth, consumation of alcohol and cigarettes while pregnant, rape, sexual assault, assault (and one very big spoiler:

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for But_i_thought_.
169 reviews1,429 followers
October 15, 2020
The good: Mackintosh’s writing is atmospheric and evocative, with a subtle note of violence.

The bad: Plotting, character development and world-building were a disappointment for me. The book also gets too many logistical and medical details on pregnancy and birth wrong (Examples: no post-birth lochia (!); a character manages to wear the same pair of jeans for the duration of pregnancy; the timing of the "first kick" is unrealistic in relation to size of belly etc etc).

A pity, as the first 50 pages or so were perfection.

Mood: Atmospheric
Rating: 5/10

Related review
The Water Cure
Profile Image for Dianne.
549 reviews883 followers
August 23, 2020
Spare and haunting. Lovely writing. Odd in the very best kind of way.

RTC if I can gather my scattered thoughts......
Profile Image for Ellen Gail.
826 reviews369 followers
October 28, 2022
Incredibly strange and hypnotically beautiful, Blue Ticket was nothing like I expected and I'm not mad about it.

While reading the first few pages of Blue Ticket, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. The writing style was deeply reserved and flighty. I honestly thought I would hate it. On any different day I might have. But something about it just clicked for me. It eschews structure in favor of ephemeral glimpses of thought and feeling. It's a novel that really doesn't give a fuck about being easily readable. It considers questions of free will, choice, and destiny but wraps them in a murky shadow of a narrator trapped by both desire and destiny, who so desperately wants to know what she truly wants.

What I'm getting at is, this book is weird as hell. In a way, this reminds me of Bunny - it has the same trippy, mesmerizing quality to it. It's as much an experience as it is a book.

Blue Ticket could have been a paint by numbers feminist dystopia. Instead it is something altogether weirder and more striking. I'll never forget it.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Doubleday Books for the review copy!
Profile Image for Max Lau • Maxxesbooktopia.
157 reviews8 followers
September 29, 2022
“My husband found out. He didn’t believe it was an accident. He was disgusted with me. But it wasn’t his body.” – Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh.

So, I was expecting to savour this novel like I savour the taste of Mcdonald’s French Fries but alas, I did not. I was severely disappointed with the content of the novel that the author had handed to me because I could recognise so much of potential in the idea and the world the author was trying to create but somehow, both of them managed to get lost in the pages of the novel.

If you enjoy a dystopian world without any world-building or history as to why the system works the way it does, this might be the book for you but it definitely isn’t the book for me. There were only a couple of information thrown around in the novel that could give me a grasp on the system of the world and those were:

(1) There is a lottery that dictates women’s entire life. You may get a Blue-Ticket which signifies freedom BUT you are not to get pregnant. You may get a White-Ticket and your only purpose is to give birth? I think? It is not very clear on that end.

(2) If you get pregnant as a Blue-Ticket, you are instantly an exile and your fellow Blue-Tickets will hate on you and try to murder you?

(3) Men hate getting Blue-Ticket women pregnant and will not hold any responsibility for that matter?

(4) White-Ticket women hate Blue-Ticket women who have gotten themselves pregnant.

(5) If you have done good in the community, the emissaries will give you a head start – 12 hours – to run away and hide before they come to find you.

(6) Oh, I almost forgot, when you get your first bleed, you are required to go to the town you have in mind without any help from the adults. So, yeah that is basically it. Those question marks gave nods to my very confused brain.

“I told him instead that I’d had agency over the things I had done all through my life, even if not over everything that had been done to me. I told him I was not a branch being broken in a stream, carried along by the water until it snapped. I told him he should give my baby back to me.” – Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh.

We follow Calla’s perspective throughout the novel and I thought the beginning was interesting because it shows the desperation of Calla trying to shed her childhood by taking lots of milk and peanut butter to get her first bleed. It was as if she is trying to get away from her father but at the same time, not trying to get away from her father because the first page of the novel shows how much her father loves her. It is very confusing and I don’t know how to feel. Then, in her adult life, she drinks a lot, smokes a lot and starts developing this ‘dark feeling’ which is to have her own baby and family. She proceeds to use this dude, who is an asshole to say the least, to get the baby. She then turns into a fugitive and she is on the run from the emissaries. I thought everything was interesting up until I reached the section where she decides to settle in the cabin. That section manages to slow everything down. Almost nothing happens most of the time during her stay in the cabin and that made me want to rip my eyeballs out.

This novel should have gotten multiple perspectives to give a wider view on the world. For example, a perspective from a White-Ticket woman, a perspective from the emissary and a perspective from a man in a high position. This would have provided an insight on the world and also, enhance our perception on how brain-washed everyone is. I thought it was not particularly right to limit the perspective to Calla alone because she is not that interesting of a character and her motives are confusing and most of the time, I do not understand why she did what she did. In addition, there isn’t any character development in the novel which further proves the point of getting more POVs.

The author has a readable writing style that will make you read the novel compulsively as you have the urge to know what is coming next. Other than that, the writing style is also very beautiful which will make you crave for more of it but unfortunately, the story isn’t very good and I wish there is a better ending for this novel because I did not like that ending because the ending makes it seem like Calla would conveniently give up stuff instead of fighting for it and also, it makes it seem like the book is pointless.

Ultimately, I understand the message the author is trying to convey. She wants us to perceive the misogyny in the world where women have no control over their freedom, their body and their choice and how extremely infuriating it is. This dystopian world that she has created intersects with the real world albeit the weak world-building. Several quotes in this novel perfectly showcase the real world and it is so frustrating to see how we are living in 2020 and yet, misogyny is still a thing. Thus, I thought the message was delivered well.

Final Verdict: 50% (D)

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Profile Image for Turkey Hash.
164 reviews38 followers
September 5, 2020
I'd read anything Sophie Mackintosh writes, and so it was always going to be, at worst, four stars (if we have to use this grading system!)

At times, I was like there are a lot of weird ideas here about women who draw the blue ticket as part of a lottery system at puberty that determines whether women can have children or not. It's not super detailed how this came about, but that's kind of irrelevant to this project (and I don't care). Not only can they not have children - being fitted with contraception at an early age - they are sent to 'the city' (a nice play on the lone woman in the city trope) and monitored for the rest of their lives by v. Anna Kavan-inspired doctors. That's fine, but the narrator Calla appears to have internalised these ideas to an extent that makes this uncomfortable reading. There is no alternative to working and drinking and maybe a relationship with a man who doesn't mind being with a blue ticket. Women who draw the 'white ticket' (which means they can have children) are almost saint-like in her eyes. It seemed...really odd, and made the dystopia seem a little dated (along with the smoking). Saying that, there are a lot of people in this society who can't imagine women doing anything other than dying alone or having children, so fair enough.

But the prose. It's just so good that I didn't care. I read it at a slight remove initially, in the way that you can read the best authors sometimes - you just enjoy what they do, they don't have to speak to *you*. I loved the broad details of this claustrophobic, strange world that felt a little like the 1950s/1960s (just v Kavanish)- the abstraction gives everything a slightly out of focus, highly emotional tone which I adored.

AND THEN, I really got into the story on the basis that Calla knows nothing about pregnancy (no spoiler - she gets pregnant). The info is not given to Blue Ticket women. Even as an avowedly never-going-to-get pregnant woman, one of my worst fears is being pregnant without knowing it, which is not dissimilar to being pregnant but not knowing what you have to do to take care of your body. This lack of knowledge takes the novel into all kinds of strange(r) territories, really ramps up the sense of unease and the dystopia, when women are dependent on superior scientific knowledge to 'know' anything about their bodies (and their minds): she's smoking, and drinking, and constantly in situations which we never see pregnant women. It brings out your sense of moral judgement too, while uniquely creating a situation in which all moral judgement has be suspended. There's a real exploration of what it means to have your body taken over - and how strange and odd it can become, even after Calla attains her greatest desire (to become pregnant). This book gave me ridiculously intense dreams.

The dreams were about 50% down to the immense writing - did I mention the writing? - but also the way Mackintosh gets to the questions and fears that haunt most women (massive generalisation, but she really is so great at exploring femininity and the body, and how alien they can be). She excavates them out of her prose and her set-ups and...it's really great. That's all I can say.
Profile Image for Sandra.
62 reviews38 followers
December 17, 2020
I talk about the book in a YouTube video aswell.

This book is bemusing, to say the least. It has such an interesting premise but I felt let down by the actual story. We're told pretty much from the beginning that the assigning of tickets is from a lottery, so I'm not sure why after the lottery happens we're subjected to 95% of Calla's ramblings and how she was *meant* to be a mother and how 'x thought' or 'y thought' meant she was good enough or not. It's a damn lottery and it wasn't based on any factor of being a human being? It's also boring that the person who doesn't get chosen to be a mother wants to be a mother. Like yes, of course, there's room for loads of exploration in that but it's straight forward and boring, particularly because Calla was boring. Your typical 'I don't care about anything' attitude, only to find *surprise* she does care and she does want a baby.

The book also lacked a lot of world-building, you don't know anything about the state of the world in this book, why are the women assigned tickets? Why do those assigned blue tickets have to then go out in the world and "make it on their own?" they are like 14! The world they live in is the same as ours but we never find out what is happening and what society is like in general. The writing by large promotes a very disjointed feel, and this is okay in some cases but I didn't like the story so I felt even further detached from it. Calla reads like a thirteen-year-old girl who is trying to be dark and mysterious and if you're just not after that it's really hard to connect with her or the book.

The book wants to talk about motherhood and choice but I think it's very poorly executed. This book is also very largely an on the road trip which was weird and wild, I think it very much wanted to bring out the wilderness and basic human/savage aspect but it's a bit trite now and it goes on for a bit too long. That along with other women who joined their merry band was just overkill. I was close to DNFing this but carried on with it as the writing was easy to get through. About 75% I found a bit more enjoyment in the book as I think it found a good balance between Calla's thoughts and thoughts on motherhood. However, in the end, it was the books attempt to be brusque so often that made this unenjoyable for me.
Profile Image for Sheena.
563 reviews251 followers
June 30, 2020
Happy publishing day!

I went into this book not knowing much about it and I was surprised with a quick and flowy read. I was absorbed in the story and needed to know what would become of Calla. Though the writing was easy to follow, it almost seemed to lack emotion even at times when it was supposed to be an emotional moment. This made it come off as robotic and not real.. not sure if that makes sense. I think that’s just my personal problem of wanting quotations when someone is speaking.

I do wish there was more world building as this isn’t much of a dystopian novel to me. The only aspect of dystopia was the blue and white tickets. There was no world building and everything else seemed relatively normal so I would’ve liked more background. Other than that, the concept of whether or not you get to be a mother reminded me a little bit of the Handmaiden’s Tale. The premise is interesting especially because everyone wants what they can’t have - regardless of which ticket they get and how they get it. It made me think what I would do in this situation or how I would feel getting a blue or white ticket. Overall, this was a solid 3 stars novel and I look forward to checking out The Water Cure next.

Thank you to netgalley and to the publisher for my advanced copy!
Profile Image for Mayk Şişman.
205 reviews164 followers
December 7, 2020
‘Su Kürü’nün yazarı Sophie Mackintosh’la sonunda tanıştım. Feminist distopya ‘Mavi Bilet’ beklentimin biraz altında kalsa da yine de temposunu ve finalini sevdiğim bir kitap oldu. Bir tık daha güçlü ve sarsıcı bir metin olsaymış yılın favorilerine de girerdi rahatlıkla. Yazara mutlaka devam edeceğim tabii...
Profile Image for Aslıhan Çelik Tufan.
646 reviews159 followers
April 18, 2021

Sophie Mackintosh ile 'Su Kürü' kitabıyla tanışmıştım, hayran kalmıştım. Bu kitabıyla da beni yanıltmadı. Yine muazzam. Bence herkesler onun kalemiyle tanışmalı.

Kadın dünyasına distopya ile çol vurucu bir şekilde ayna tutuyor. Bir dünya düşünün ki kadınlar ergenlik çağında mavi ya da beyaz bilet çekerek kaderini tayin ediyorlar. Tamamen rastlantı tamamen şans. Beyaz biletliyseniz şayet bir aile kurabilir, bebek sahibi olabilirsiniz ama asla özgür değilsiniz, boşanamaz, çalışamazsınız. Fakat eğer mavi bilet çektiyseniz tam bir özgür kadınsınız, tek farkla aile kuramaz çocuk sahibi olamazsınız. Asla tercih ve değişim hakkınız yok.

Böylesi bir dünyadan kadın ve anne olmanın zorluklarını okuyoruz.

Sophie Mackintosh çok ümit vadeden bir yazar daha ilk kitabı ile Man Booker 'da finalist olan bir yazardan bahsediyorum.
Muhakkak tanışmalısınız.

Israrla tavsiye ediyor ve keyifli okumalar diliyorum 🌼

#readingismycardio #aslihanneokudu #okudumbitti #bookstagram #2021okumalarım #kimneokudu #kitaptavsiyesi #okuryorumu #çevirikitaplar #yazarlarkitaplar #canyayınları #sophiemackintosh #mavibilet #distopya
Profile Image for Peggy Jaeger.
Author 49 books1,624 followers
March 16, 2020
This was without doubt the weirdest book I've ever read. Not only because of the subject matter, but because of the book's composition.

There was no dialogue, just the narrator saying things like she said, he said. There was no paragraph structure or time line. It was almost like a free expressive thematic writing.

I'm sure some people will say this is just one more book about female disenfranchisement in a futuristic dystopian society. Some may even hail it at the next Atwood-like tale.

I just simply found it hard and very boring to read the way it was constructed from a grammar and presentation perspective.

Told from the narrator's perspective, Calla, the reader follows her journey from when she begin to menstruate and is taken to a place where she is given either a blue ticket or white one that will determine her future. SHe got a blue ticket so she is immediately taken to a doctor where an IUD is placed within her. I'm guessing she is roughly 13-14 years old. Then, right after, she is set free on her own, to go wherever she wants. She never sees her family again. Since she has been deemed non-motherly, she can have all the sex she wants and behave whatever way she wants.

And the men she encounters call her things like slut and whore and yet still have sex with her. What in the world was this author thinking? In the day of #MeToo to have a female writer display women this way - no matter that she is world building, is just....wrong.

From the blurb I thought this book was really going to be about choice and the ability to change your mind. Unfortunately, is was more about self loathing and nothing like female empowerment.

But that's just my take and I am sure others will disagree heartily.

Thanks to Netgalley for a sneak peek at the book in exchange for an honest opinion.
Profile Image for Nadia Z. (La Lettrice Solitaria).
138 reviews240 followers
September 20, 2021
No. No. NO.

Ma che libro orrendo, ma perchè? Per quale assurdo motivo concepire una roba simile. Un libro brutto come pochi, che ha la pretesa di sembrare lirico, colmo di oscena violenza emotiva... e invece è semplicemente brutto e inutile. Non è un distopico, non c'è nessun worldbuilding e la storia è completamente vuota. Non lo so, forse potrà piacere solo a qualche donna pancina.
Non certo a me.
Profile Image for Megres..
224 reviews48 followers
September 16, 2021
L'idea di base è buona ed interessante ma viene poi sviluppata MALISSIMO. I personaggi sono piatti e scritti male e tutto si risolve in maniera confusionaria.
Diciamo che Sophie Mackintosh poteva fare molto, molto meglio!
La narrazione di Calla poi è spesso veramente pesante e fastidiosa..
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,039 reviews154 followers
July 24, 2020
I've always been a fan of dystopian novels. 1984, The Handmaid's Tale, etc. When I read the synopsis of Blue Ticket, I knew it was a book I had to read.

When Calla bleeds for the first time, she is given a blue ticket along with 3 others of her group of 5 girls. She then immediately undergoes a procedure to keep her from getting pregnant and sent off to make her way to her new life in a city. Blue ticketed woman can choose how to live their lives except for that one little thing of ever having children.

I was very intrigued by this concept of having the choice of children taken away from you. Unfortunately, I did not like the style of the writing, or the characters.

The storyline ended up being very disturbing and Calla was so completely unlikeable doing what she did with no good plan whatsoever.

I read the author's previous book, The Water Cure, and liked that book even less so I guess this book was a step up. I wanted to give the author another chance to see if her writing grew on me. It didn't. At least, for me, the subject matter of this book was better than the first book. Sadly, I'm not sure I'll be picking up any other books from this author in the future.

*Thank you to NetGalley and DoubleDay Books for the advance copy.*
Profile Image for Stephanie Wrobel.
Author 4 books1,130 followers
March 8, 2022
In this society, when girls menstruate for the first time, they go to a lottery. There they’re given a white or blue ticket, which determines whether they *must* or *can’t* have children. Personally, I cannot read a premise like that and NOT scramble to read the book.

I adore this one so much. More Sophie Mackintosh, please! [Rubs hands together greedily while reading the summary of her upcoming third novel.]

Listen, if you need the “why” behind a dystopian society or everything tied up by the end, this one isn’t for you. You will never find out how or why the lottery has come to pass! It just is! Having also read Mackintosh’s debut, I knew better than to expect answers like that. Even without them, she crafts an unforgettable story. This is an exquisite, extremely dark—but also beautiful!—examination of motherhood and free will. Appropriate for International Women's Day, no?

(But seriously, if you’re pregnant or have a newborn, maybe hold off a minute.)
Profile Image for Mridula Gupta.
668 reviews170 followers
August 23, 2020
A totalitarian government that tries to control their women isn't an innovative theme, but Mackintosh takes up the challenge to give us a story that is pedantic and yet, leaves you with more questions.

"That's how your life becomes a set thing, written and unchangeable. It was an object that didn't belong to me, and to wish for any other was a fallacy at best, treasonous at worst."

In this world, Women are divided into two groups via The Lottery - the ones with a White Ticket, who are 'allowed' to give birth and the ones with a Blue Ticket, who aren't supposed to even think of having a baby. Calla is a Blue Ticket holder, but there's a dark desire unfolding within her. She wants to experience motherhood but that would mean being banished from the world she built for herself, followed by shame and a life she is unaware if but is assured to be life-threatening.

Mackintosh plays with emotions- a woman who craves for something forbidden, a mother who would do anything to save her unborn child, a woman who wants something pure and fragile such as a baby and a family, a fugitive who desires intimacy and finally, a victim/prisoner who is forced to make decisions that goes against the fundamentals of motherhood.

'Blue Ticket' is riveting, questioning repeatedly about why women need to be kept chained to this rules and that, their free will comes at a massive cost. Calla's thoughts as she navigates through her current situation, her insights into a past that has taught her survival but in a very different manner and her interaction with other women in a similar situation is interspersed with a world that starves your curious mind which is constantly looking for clues and answers.

While Mackintosh delivers a powerful narrative, she fails to convince us to root for Calla. Motherhood might be enough to melt a woman's heart but the attachment to the characters and the sense of dread felt incomplete and vague.
Profile Image for Carlene Inspired.
917 reviews237 followers
May 18, 2020
Find more reviews at Carlene Inspired.

Calla goes against everything the blue ticket defines her life to be, but she doesn't do it in the way one might expect. She isn't motherly, she has no natural instinct to care about a child, let alone herself. She's unreliable, a drinker, selfish, and at times I questioned her mental stability. She is determined though and with determination comes an interesting, albeit difficult to picture, journey to try to chase the life she wants to create for herself and her unborn child. I wasn't in love with this book, the writing style, page breaks, and lack of dialogue really were hard to get used to, but something about it was riveting. You never really get to know Calla, there's no true description of where the events take place, even the secondary characters feel too far out of reach to picture, and yet I couldn't stop reading. It was strange, unique, and at times quite terrible, but to say Blue Ticket was a bad book just isn't true. It wasn't entirely for me, but I can absolutely see the draw for others.

The book has some GREAT lines though, so highlight-able:

"My want had been cracked open. Now I'd have to look inside and see."

"Let it into you, I thought there, in the moments before she pulled me up and kissed me on the mouth for the first time. Let it into you."

ARC provided.
Profile Image for Sarah.
1,172 reviews35 followers
April 27, 2020
2.5 rounded up

Mackinstosh has written a quiet but at times thought-provoking feminist dystopia set in a world where young women are granted tickets - a white ticket means you can become a mother and are part of the highest strata of society, while a blue ticket means you become "free" (while being forcibly inserted with a coil-like device to prevent pregnancy).

Our protagonist Calla is the recipient of a blue ticket, and leads a hedonistic lifestyle of drinking and sleeping around, later going on to date a man named R. But Calla starts to want more out of life, and this is where things pick up as she has to begin a life on the run.

While I don't usually like books written in this style - vague with minimal world building and description - I thought it worked well here: Mackintosh gives just enough away to let you fill in the grim blanks with your imagination. While I found it well-paced I finished feeling a little disappointed, and the novel lacked a certain something which would have made it stand out from what is now a frankly oversaturated genre.

Thank you Netgalley and Penguin Books UK for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.
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