Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

BannerlessRating: ★★★★★

Blurb taken from

“Decades after economic and environmental collapse destroys much of civilization in the United States, the Coast Road region isn’t just surviving but thriving by some accounts, building something new on the ruins of what came before. A culture of population control has developed in which people, organized into households, must earn the children they bear by proving they can take care of them and are awarded symbolic banners to demonstrate this privilege. In the meantime, birth control is mandatory.

Enid of Haven is an Investigator, called on to mediate disputes and examine transgressions against the community. She’s young for the job and hasn’t yet handled a serious case. Now, though, a suspicious death requires her attention. The victim was an outcast, but might someone have taken dislike a step further and murdered him?

In a world defined by the disasters that happened a century before, the past is always present. But this investigation may reveal the cracks in Enid’s world and make her question what she really stands for.”

It could just be that I was really disappointed with the last few books I’ve read, but I absolutely loved this. Vaughn writes beautifully and a lot of what she says I found very relatable.

When I read the blurb, I was expecting something along the lines of The Handmaid’s Tale, a future dystopian society where women’s reproductive rights are controlled. While the book does have that, it isn’t all that it’s about, and that particular part of the story is so subtly woven into everything else that at the end I was left feeling unsure how I felt about that particular conflict. It was about the women sure, but it was also about society as a collective. As far as post-apocalyptic dystopian societies go- the society presented on the Coast Road doesn’t seem like such a terrible way to live. Which is why I’m so conflicted- because I don’t think a government should be interfering with a woman’s body in any way.

The focus of the story is Enid. We see her in two timelines, one where she comes of age, and another, as an adult. Both timelines pulled me in equally, and I never felt disappointed, never felt like I needed to hurry through the next chapter to get back to the story I really cared about. It was impossible not to care for her- not be happy for her triumphs and adventures, not to be sad for her in her losses.

The plot isn’t action filled, it goes at its own pace, but the setting and characters are so lovely, I never noticed.

I would recommend this to anyone looking for something on the lighter side of dystopias, but still wants a book that will make them think. I absolutely can’t wait to read the next.

One thought on “Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday: Hidden Gems | Hamlets & Hyperspace

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