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The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to…
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The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere) (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Meg Elison (Author)

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3433050,342 (3.94)28
Philip K. Dick Award Winner for Distinguished Science Fiction When she fell asleep, the world was doomed. When she awoke, it was dead. In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth's population--killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant--the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power--and the strong who possess it. A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men's clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she'll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence. After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.… (more)
Member:Samkwrth
Title:The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere)
Authors:Meg Elison (Author)
Info:47North (2016), Edition: Reprint, 300 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****1/2
Tags:None

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The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere) by Meg Elison (2016)

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As The Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison falls totally in my wheelhouse, it’s no surprise that I really loved this story. An apocalypse that is caused by an unknown illness is claiming many victims, particularly children, babies and women. Our main character falls victim to the disease but she was one of the very few women that recovered. The world she came back to was a totally different one and her first priority was finding somewhere safe. Women were being taken against their will and had become a valuable commodity to the gangs of men who were wandering around.

Disguising herself as a man, she takes to the road and the book unfolds as if we were reading the pages of her journal as well as entries from others she meets on the road. Over the course of a number of years she wanders, leaving behind her past life in San Francisco and her career as a nurse/midwife, but her medical skills become an important aid to her survival. The virus appears to still live in the survivors and is a huge danger to both the unborn fetus and the pregnant woman.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is both gripping and grim, yet I felt it never went too far over the top to become unbelievable. I am simply glad that I only get to read about this type of disaster as I wouldn't survive more than a day or two if it actually real. Although this woman’s story is pretty much wrapped up by the end of the book, there are still many avenues left to explore regarding the status of women in this post-apocalyptic world and I am glad that there is sequel that will hopefully expand on this issue. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Nov 16, 2018 |
When an epidemic kills nearly everyone but especially women and children, a former nurse finds herself traversing a dangerous world without rules or protections as humanity faces it own extinction with the stillbirth of every baby.
  4leschats | Oct 22, 2018 |
This book. THIS BOOK. This book, you guys. It kept me up for three nights in a row, vacation days where I had other things I needed to be doing during the day, old friends that I had promised to meet with, family that I wanted to spend time with. But every night, back at my hotel, I would pick up this book and read until I realized that it was way too late, much, much later than I had planned on staying up. And it wasn't because I wanted to be in the world that Meg Elison has created; quite the opposite. I stayed up every night horrified and addicted and needing to know that things would be ok again on Meg Elison's devastated post-apocalyptic Earth, even though I knew that there was no way that could happen.

It doesn't feel right to say that I loved a book that terrified me, that broke my heart, that kept me awake at night because my brain couldn't relax without knowing the ending. And yet. I love this book. It's stunning. Our unnamed main character is tough but vulnerable, resourceful but humanly flawed. The women that she meets in her travels run the gamut from broken to crafty to seductive to resilient to just plain lucky. The men are just as varied, but much more terrifying in a world where women are rare and coveted. I love, love, love, that despite the fact that it's not necessary to the story, our main character is bisexual. That she is willing to queer her gender for survival. That we get to see that story.

I love this heartbreaking story and will recommend it to anyone willing to have their own heart broken by a truly great story. It's just... guys. Go read this.

This review first appeared on my blog. ( )
  VLarkinAnderson | Sep 22, 2018 |
An interesting premise, wasted. I've no idea why this won the Philip K Dick award. A meandering plot, cardboard characters, shallow exploration of theme and an obsession with guns and sex. Perhaps I'm just spoilt by Margaret Atwood. And to cap it all, use of a font that is very difficult to read in my kindle. 31 July 2018 ( )
  alanca | Aug 6, 2018 |
The precis: Crap, top to bottom.

In depth: the Book of the unnamed midwife is a fictional diary written by an unnamed woman after a plague has wiped out pretty much most everyone. More, this plague had a disproportionate impact upon women; for every 9 men surviving, only one woman had similar “luck.” I write “luck” because in Ms. Ellison’s estimation, women surviving the calamity find out exactly what awful creatures men are; the best the protagonist receives is when the gay guys at the beginning get catty and kick her out of their survival group. It is all down hill from there, until the end.

The protagonist spends most of the book cowering and avoiding those awful, awful men whose true nature has been laid bare by the plague. What is the true nature of men? Why, they’re all rapists. If you disagree, then perhaps you should take more classes on queer theory and perhaps a few rounds of public shaming coupled with self-criticism. That’ll get you on the right path.

The midwife without a name spends much off her time moving around rural northern California and points east, unable to find weaponry. The putative reason given in the book is that gun laws truly do work, and that fewer people own guns. This of course is about as realistic as the cgi backgrounds in “The Room.” Anyone who has spent time in those particular parts of the country know that guns of all kinds still exist in great numbers, and if the apocalypse were to happen to morrow, survivors, craven and otherwise, would have no problem whatsoever arming themselves to the teeth.

Finally, Ms. Ellison can’t write. I’m sure she’s aiming for “gritty” but it comes across as “dull and inarticulate.”

The only reason I read this steaming pile, and perhaps the only true reason to do so, is because it inexplicably popped up on the PKD awards list for 2015 (and shockingly, won). I read the books on the list every year, good, bad and unreadable and despite the ups and downs of that particular awards list, “The book of the unnamed midwife” was a stand out. ( )
1 vote Gershayim | Apr 16, 2018 |
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In the wake of a fever that decimated the earth’s population—killing women and children and making childbirth deadly for the mother and infant—the midwife must pick her way through the bones of the world she once knew to find her place in this dangerous new one. Gone are the pillars of civilization. All that remains is power—and the strong who possess it.

A few women like her survived, though they are scarce. Even fewer are safe from the clans of men, who, driven by fear, seek to control those remaining. To preserve her freedom, she dons men’s clothing, goes by false names, and avoids as many people as possible. But as the world continues to grapple with its terrible circumstances, she’ll discover a role greater than chasing a pale imitation of independence.

After all, if humanity is to be reborn, someone must be its guide.
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