About Sisterland - Martina Devlin

Genre: Dystopian/Extremism
Synopsis: Welcome to Sisterland. A world ruled by women. A world designed to be perfect. Here, women and men are kept separate. Women lead highly controlled and suffocating lives, while men are subordinate – used for labour and breeding. Sisterland’s leaders have been watching Constance and recognise that she’s special. Selected to reproduce, she finds herself alone with a man for the first time. But the mate chosen for her isn’t what she expected – and she begins to see a darker side to Sisterland. Constance’s misgivings about the regime mount. Is she the only one who questions this unequal society, or are there other doubters?


Review: About Sisterland started off exceptionally well - so much so that I was actually surprised that it is so little known. Martina Devlin is no newbie to noveling, and yet this book has very few reviews or ratings on Goodreads. Comparatively, YA dystopia Only Ever Yours (also dealing with extremism, but related to aesthetic pressure on women) absolutely blew up the YA and Irish book worlds. Granted, towards the end of this novel - maybe two thirds of the way through - I began to feel it was losing its way and it never quite recovered - ultimately not packing nearly as strong a punch as the aforementioned OEY, but it's still a very original, interesting spin on extreme dystopia. It also throws local lingo at the reader without explanation (other than a glossary at the back), so the reader is forced to pay attention and catch on quickly. This is one of the few dystopian books that has successfully drawn me in on that front.

This book is extremely easy to read - I read two thirds of it in one evening, and finished it the next afternoon - and the dystopian setting constructed by Devlin is wonderfully detailed and equally fascinating. From the outset, small unsettling details like the covering of womens faces with masks, and the apparent inability of women to feel, will strike unease in the reader. Over the course of the novel, a complex, allegedly utopic society is gradually deconstructed by Constance and the followers of her deceased other, Silence. One of my favourite aspects of this novel is the portrayal of men as base creatures, slaves to female governance - a lot of dystopian books I've come across either subjugate women, or a mixed-gender class of society. But I also loved that women did not get off Scot-free either - this is not the story of men rebelling against female overlords, it a chilling, thought-provoking study of multi-faceted extremism - enforced slavery and pleasant brain-washing.

So why then, did I only like and not love it? Unfortunately, the last third let it down in my opinion. The pace began to change, too much happened too easily and without enough explanation. Several things were mentioned, but not elaborated upon. Many of the characters, aside from Constance and Harper, blended into one for me, and I found myself unable to discern specific characters beyond their political allegiances. And ultimately, the final third just packed in too much unnecessary content that felt like a drawn-out epilogue, for a resolution that could have been brought about far more simply. It felt disjointed, and not a natural conclusion for an otherwise great story.

All the same, worth a read if the premise intrigues you.

Rating: 3/5

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