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Red Clocks

by Leni Zumas

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7074422,305 (3.75)79
Abortion is 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 Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro's best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling herbalist, or "mender," who brings all their fates together when she's arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.… (more)
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English (43)  French (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 43 (next | show all)
If you are going to try to be the successor to "The Handmaid's Tale" I want you to bring it.
"Red Clocks" a euphemism for a woman's womb or vagina (I don't know guys, I refuse to go back and read this again) talks about a different United States where 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. So synopsis sounded good and I went for this book. I got a somewhat incomprehensible book about four women (and one woman that one of the four is writing a biography about) that limps back and forth between them and then ends.

We have Zumas referring to the four characters as the following throughout her book: the Biographer (Ro), the Wife (Susan), the Mender (Gin) and the Daughter (Mattie).

I think Zumas wanted to designate these characters as what the world sees them at, but honestly in Gin's case the best name would have been "Witch" and Ro would have been "Spinster." So I don't know what she's doing with that. If there had only been three women in this story it would have been a nice call-back to the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

The only story that I cared about was Mattie. One out of four is not good by the way.

Ro's story was focused on her trying to become artificially inseminated. I have no idea why the law would not have included this not being illegal if you freaking ban in-vitro fertilization, but I am not going to think too hard on it. Ro is also writing a biography on a female explorer called Eivør who lived in the 9th-century. I totally started skipping the sections in between chapters that were about her. I just could not at that point with everything else that was driving me up the wall about this book.

Susan is not happy in her marriage and seems to dislike one of her two kids. She wants her husband to go to counseling and he refuses, so she is in a bad stalemate in her marriage. This also led me to question if you are even allowed to divorce in this bold new world, but I guess so. She seems to be passive aggressive about everything and I just honestly wanted to yell at her to either leave your husband or suck it up.

Mattie is adopted and is pretty much the perfect daughter. When she finds herself pregnant, she's scared about what options are left to her. She does confide in Ro so there are some scenes between them, but that is way towards the end.

Gin leaves in the woods and women come to see her now for ailments. So that part was kind of interesting. If the U.S. reverses itself, would more mid-wives or others have to step forward to be there to deal with things for women again. But here story was all over the place for me.

The writing was tough to get past. The flow was awful. It would have helped if all of the women interacted, but they don't. Ro interacts with Susan and Mattie. Mattie interacts with Gin and Ro. The four of them I don't think have one scene together in this book.

The world building didn't really work for me since it left me with a ton of questions. Do I think in the United States we are coming ever closer to a woman's right to choose being restricted, yes. That scares me a lot. We know that somehow this act just randomly got passed. The Supreme Court said okay to this? Where were the mass protests? How the heck did in-vitro even get included with this?

Also the book goes into how single people would soon not be allowed to adopt because of a two parent requirement which also seems to be slamming those who are LGBT so that left me with wondering if that is illegal too?

But then later on Ro brings up protests happening that she is thinking about being a part of and I just wondered about what did the rest of the world say, what are others doing? We hear how one teen goes to jail or disappears essentially after being found out she had an abortion.

The book limps to the end and I was glad to be done with it. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Sorry, SF fans, this one isn't SF no matter how it might be billed that way. There is ONE alteration to reality and it's only a legal one. Abortions are outlawed. The rest is, as they say, history.

Enter into a novel about vaginas. Names are missing because it's popular to write about real people as only their roles.

Other than that, it feels like popular fiction, complete with disgruntled housewives, teachers who dream of having children but are denied, little girls who get pregnant and must suffer all kinds of horrors in this realistic world of insanity. Just roll back the clock a little. Or roll it forward. Roe VS Wade is HISTORY.

All in all, this novel *is* a what-if. It says nothing more than what I already believe, that women should not have to suffer, either economically or legally or socially, for the desire NOT to be saddled with a real and true burden. Not unless they're able and willing to take care of said burden.

And yet, what makes this novel popular is the fear that this little freedom will soon go away. In real life.

Horrible? Yes.

It's a subject that should not be shot, burned, ostracized, locked-away, or otherwise relegated to dirty street corners with coat hangers.

As a novel, however, it's okay. I might have liked it better if the more fascinating Biographer had an actual name. A lot of the details of the characters' lives were more interesting than their Roles would have them be. Is it on purpose? Undoubtedly. Did it work the way it should have? Not sure, but I'm leaning toward no.

It wasn't bad tho and I support the attempt. ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
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 adored. Too bad her dramatic arc was wrapped up in a B movie plot.

The person who designed this cover should get a medal. Brava--I'm assuming you are a woman--forgive me if you're not, and my admiration for you has grown all the more strong--and shame on Hachette for not giving you a named credit on the jacket you designed. ( )
  poingu | Feb 22, 2020 |
The second half was better than the first half - I didn't think the "biographer" and "mender" (etc) titles were particularly effective, to the point where it was difficult to get to know the characters early on. Maybe it was supposed to help make them archetypes? Anyway, it was a good cautionary tale, my issues were mainly with style. ( )
  jekka | Jan 24, 2020 |
Through the lives of four modern women and one forgotten explorer, Red Clocks examines what it means to be female in a patriarchal society, the struggle to control your own destiny as one, and the eternal accusations we face when we dare to breakaway from the social restrictions placed on us. This softly disturbing, near-future dystopia is so utterly contemporary in its feel and the single, devastating change to law so realistic that it leaves you unsettled as does the quiet sound in the night that you aren't quite sure you really heard but can't stop listening for. ( )
  Zoes_Human | Nov 14, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Zumas, Leniprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harms, LaurenCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"For nothing was simply one thing. The other Lighthouse was true too." --Virginia Woolf
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For Luca and Nicholas per sempre
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By walking, she told her students, is how you make the road.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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