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.
I’ve seen several Instagramers post pictures of The Glass Arrow and I thought it was lovely- the cover is a gorgeous teal with neat little vines. I read the synopsis and based on that, I thought it had the promise of being a pretty good book. I was really excited to dive in once it arrived, but about half way through the story I was pretty let down.
In some aspects, it was refreshing compared to other Young Adult novels. For instance, there was no love triangle, no single-handedly changing the course of society, no true selfless or heroic acts. Aya was a more realistic character than many I have read about, but I did not connect, or empathize, with her to a great degree. Aya was a very strong-willed character, with a single minded determination to not be debased because of her gender. She was also surprisingly selfish, which was refreshing because in truth, are we humans not creatures possessed of a singular sense of self-preservation or self-serving? Aya’s goal was to escape her misogynistic captors and return to her family in the mountains, where they would continue to hide and barely exist. While I sort of admired Aya, I did not particularly like her.
The story itself had some interesting sub-cultures, but they were not described in great detail. The people called the Driver’s, who main jobs are trading and horse handling, were interesting but were relatively two-dimensional. Aya befriends a Driver-boy who she calls Kiran, but we learn very little about him, even after he actually begins communicating with Aya. The reader is given little hints of a rich culture, just waiting to be described fully in text, but is left with an unfulfilled desire. We are also only given minimal information about the current state of society and how it got that way in the first place. There are so many “WHYs” and “HOWs” that I wanted answered, but they weren’t. Perhaps this was because Aya was outside of society and knew little of the details, or perhaps the story just didn’t mature into the tale it could have.
Overall, The Glass Arrow was decent enough, but I probably won’t recommend it to anyone. In fact, I’ll probably encourage them to stay away from it unless they can find it for a couple dollars. It is a pretty book and might make a nice paper weight or photo prop. You could also use it to make the book-origami.