Mini Review: The Glass Arrow by Kristin Simmons

The Glass Arrow
Kristen Simmons

Tor Teen
Released February 10, 2015
336 pages
YA / Dystopia

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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.

If I wanted to make this the shortest review in Working for the Mandroid history I would just say: Kristen Simmons had some big ideas that she couldn’t execute in an interesting, thought-provoking or compelling way, so the whole story reads a bit like fable that has a hard time getting to the point.

But I guess I should go into it a little more. The Glass Arrow is okay with okay characters and a nothing special plot that’s trying to be a feminist text for a budding feminist, but instead it can’t decide whether to remain subtly political so that it doesn’t get in the way of the action or put the feminism issues front in center. The entire novel becomes a stuttering narrative with a somewhat bland protagonist that just left me bored more often than not.

A love interest is shoehorned in, plot conveniences are relied on and highly telegraphed and the resolution of the novel is small. I don’t know if this is the beginning of a series that plans to explore larger issues in the extreme patriarchal society Simmons's has created, but The Glass Arrow doesn’t dive enough into the societal issues to become much of a feminist story. It definitely didn’t have the realism aspect of a novel like The Handmaid’s Tale, which was realistic enough to make me fearful of the potential realities reflected in that book. Instead The Glass Arrow reads like a half-developed idea that could have used some more brainstorming before it was plotted out.