The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Rating: 5 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.
What I Liked:
I never read The Handmaid's Tale (one of my friends LOVE it though), nor did I ever make it to the end of Blood Red Road (I really tried...), so the comparison in the synopsis is wasted on me. But back in mid-2013, when I saw that Kristen Simmons was writing a new book, I added it without question. It worked out for me in the end, because my last read of 2014 just so happens to be a rare five-star read, and a favorite!
Aya has been captured from her home in the "wild". She will be bought by someone in order to be bred, to have a healthy son. Females who can produce healthy children - specifically, males - are scarce. With the help of a Driver, she will attempt to escape her buyer, and find her family before they are captured and sold like she was.
I LOVE THIS BOOK. I love Aya. I love Kiran. I love the story. I love the world-building. I love the romance. I love the ending. I love the cover. I loveeee this book. Just about everything is wonderful. I'm a big believer in "nothing is perfect" and "every book has its flaws" but at the moment, I'm basking in the "this book was so awesome" glow.
Aya grew up in the woods. She didn't live in the city, where people get their meals via a meal pill. This is why her womb is so valuable - she has a more "natural" body, and is more fertile. She is captured by businessmen, and taken to the Garden, where she and other girls are auctioned to the highest bidder. Aya does everything to avoid the auctions - she injures herself and gets into fights, to avoid the auctions. In her most recent stunt, she lands herself in solitary, where she makes the acquaintance of a mute Driver (whom she names Kiran).
Kiran isn't in solitary - he's a Driver, and he's not confined. But Aya talks to him (though he can't talk back). When Aya is finally auctioned, she is stunned because she has been sold. She has to leave behind a dirty wolf (whom she named Brax)... and Kiran (whom she nicknamed for the color of his eyes). But as it would turn out, Kiran is neither mute nor stupid. He is an integral part of this book.
Aya is such an interesting protagonist. She is naturally more spirited and "wild" than the other girls in the city, but for a reason - she is from the outside. She never stops trying to escape, to fight back, to think of how to overcome the obstacles in front of her. Aya is so SMART. Clever, inquisitive, determined, brave. I like her a lot.
Kiran is equally as smart, clever, inquisitive, determined, brave, but in his own way. He is very quiet (he has to play mute, like the rest of the Drivers), but he is extremely observant and intelligent. Honestly, if the pair of them weren't as smart as they were, neither of them would have made it out of certain sticky situations alive. Anyway. I'm a huge fan of Kiran. He and Aya are so stubborn and brave, perfect for each other. But not just romantic interests - they are wonderful protagonists,
There are several parts to this story. Aya gets captured (and eventually meets Kiran); Aya gets sold and leaves the Garden; Kiran finds Aya and helps her escape; Aya and Kiran try to find Aya's family. I loved each part of the book, but my favorite would be when Aya finally escapes captivity - all of the captivity, when she leaves the city. The book isn't over yet, by any means, but I breathed easier when they left the city.
I had a hard time coming up with the primary genre for this book. It seems like it could be set in a futuristic city, because there are guns and technology that made me think of a futuristic place. The meal pill seemed really advanced. But it had a heavy fantasy feel to it - not epic fantasy, but fantasy nonetheless. Either way, I LOVE the world that Simmons has created. She masterfully created the setting, both in the wild and in the city.
The romance - oh, how I loved the romance. No love triangle, no insta-love. It amazed me how easily I fell for Aya and Kiran as a couple, in the beginning, with Kiran being mute, and the two of them barely interacting. Yet, they interacted so much in the beginning, and Aya felt his "loss" when she was sold. Then Kiran helps her escape, and they leave the city, and it's not like they immediately confess feelings for each other and that's that. NO. Aya and Kiran go through a lot before they finally let their guards down and let each other in. Love!
One thing that Simmons did that I actually REALLY liked was that she didn't try and have her characters "save the world". I can't say too much (not trying to spoil things), but this story isn't about Aya and Kiran taking down the city, the system, the government, etc. This story is about a girl who was captured and sold, who got out and wanted to save her family. It's a standalone, and it's a fabulous standalone. Simmons didn't try to overdo things.
That being said, I LOVED the ending. The last scene, the very end, is so beautiful. At first I thought it was unfulfilled, but then I realized that it was PERFECT. Anything more wouldn't have have made sense, given what we know about Aya, and Kiran. Simmons pulled everything together in the last scene. I loved it!
What I Did Not Like:
I can't think of anything concrete. I'm sure there's something, but at the moment, meh!
Would I Recommend It:
YES! Totally recommended, now go read! I'm actually going to reread my favorite parts right now (there are a lot of them).
5 stars. A rare five stars from me - but so well-deserved! I had a good feeling about this book, and I'm glad that feeling did not let me down! Glad Kristen Simmons did not let me down (as I knew she wouldn't)!
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