The Grace Year, Kim Ligget – Book Review

Hello Humans! I continue to be amazed at just how many ‘the world is terrible for women’ books being published lately. I mean, it’s not a criticism – many of them have been quite good – it just feels as though the market is quite saturated!

With that in mind, I went into Kim Ligget’s The Grace Year with no small amount of scepticism – could this book really be different enough to hook someone as jaded as me?

The Grace Year

Goodreads Summary:

SURVIVE THE YEAR.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

Normally I try to keep these reviews spoiler-free but in this case, I’m going to be making at least one major spoiler because otherwise, I can’t talk about the bits of this book I liked and didn’t like properly. 

You have been warned.

This book was actually pretty good. My scepticism was swept aside by a pretty engaging plot and a wonderful sense of atmosphere. From the oppression and isolation of the town to the freedom and fear of the outside, Kim Ligget really captures the different settings and kept me interested all the way through.

There is an essence of The Hunger Games in this book, I don’t think that can be denied, but there are also feelings of classic horror films in there (one in particular). While the majority of this book follows those classic themes of ‘men are terrible aren’t they’ and ‘humans will be the worst towards one another if given the opportunity’ there were also some action elements I wouldn’t necessarily have expected. A good portion of this book was familiar and predictable (not a bad thing) but it did manage to surprise me on a few occasions.

What I appreciated was that Tierney wasn’t a total stereotypical heroine. Yes, she is a person who questions the regime under which she is brought up but it’s made clear that she isn’t the only one to do so. This book doesn’t paint all the other people as mindless drones except for brave Tierney. I think that’s in part because this book really acknowledges the tremendous power of indoctrination – even presented with stark evidence of what is real and not real people do cling on to their beliefs – denial is a powerful thing.

From that perspective, I thought this book was really good – surprisingly so. There were a couple of elements that frustrated me.

For one thing, I felt like the queer plotline was thrown in for the sake of it? While I was glad that it was there at all, it felt just a little bit hollow and played-out? I’d have liked a bit more meat on those bones.

The romance, I won;t go into too much because I think it’s probably a matter of personal preference. I personally could have done without a romance element especially since –

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT

-Tierney’s big reveal at the end is that she’s pregnant after the Grace Year and I just can’t abide pregnancy as a plot device especially when thrown in at the last minute. It felt like it undermined all the other things she’d learned and discovered.

END OF SPOILER

Overall, this is one of the better ‘things are terrible for women’ books I’ve read, and if someone were looking for something to read in that vein I might recommend this. I wonder if, being a little introspective, it’s because this book does feel quite removed from the real world, it feels more like a small cult as opposed to a nation like Gilead – maybe I just like the comfort of something feeling like a fantasy rather than something that might actually happen. Oh my.

My rating: 4/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

The Grace Year is available now!

Find on Goodreads | Amazon (Affiliate)

What say you? What other dystopian books do you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below!

J

One thought on “The Grace Year, Kim Ligget – Book Review

Add yours

  1. Ironically, the fact that Tierney questioned everything made it harder for me to get into the book, because I was standing next to her going “You all can’t possibly be this stupid.” Book had some good atmosphere, but man did I not like the romance!! Sadly this one just wasn’t for me!

    Liked by 1 person

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