Title: A Girl Called Fearless
Author: Catherine Linka
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (Macmillan)
Acquired Via: NetGalley
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Set in an altered—yet terrifyingly familiar—present-day USA, a riveting debut about a teen girl who must decide whether to submit to a forced marriage... or run for freedom.
Avie Reveare has the normal life of a privileged teen growing up in L.A., at least as normal as any girl’s life is these days. After a synthetic hormone in beef killed fifty million American women ten years ago, only young girls, old women, men, and boys are left to pick up the pieces. The death threat is past, but fathers still fear for their daughters’ safety, and the Paternalist Movement, begun to "protect" young women, is taking over the choices they make.
Like all her friends, Avie still mourns the loss of her mother, but she’s also dreaming about college and love and what she’ll make of her life. When her dad "contracts" her to marry a rich, older man to raise money to save his struggling company, her life suddenly narrows to two choices: Be trapped in a marriage with a controlling politician, or run. Her lifelong friend, student revolutionary Yates, urges her to run to freedom across the border to Canada. As their friendship turns to passion, the decision to leave becomes harder and harder. Running away is incredibly dangerous, and it’s possible Avie will never see Yates again. But staying could mean death.
Romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real, A Girl Called Fearless is a story about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.
My first thoughts when I picked up A Girl Called Fearless were that this sounded a lot like The Registry by Shannon Stoker. Also, I wondered why the men didn’t just go outside the U.S. to find women to marry? Were the borders of the U.S. closed so that the disease did not spread across the world?
I wish that this would have been set in the future instead of the present. It’s harder to suspend my belief if this is an alternate reality rather than a possible one, for some reason. While I think that there are some logical fallacies in the story, some of it is at least a little believable. If there was something that decimated the U.S.’s female population, I think some of the story would be believable. Women have only had the right to vote after all in this country for less than 100 years. And there are still politicians (male and female) in this country who believe that they have the right to determine what a woman does with her body (birth control and abortion are still two hot topics). Less than 50 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the U.S. government to prohibit married couples from using birth control. So, while I believe that this scenario is entirely possible, I don’t think that the execution in the novel was believable.
I’m disappointed because the book had so much potential. There are some really awesome things in the book like Sparrow and Maggie, but these are overwhelmed by Avie’s lackluster personality and a plot full of holes. Avie annoyed me. She whines about how she doesn’t want to be entered into a Contract. Yet, when given a chance to run, she doesn’t immediately take it. I would have taken the first chance on freedom and ran as hard as I could, consequences be damned. For someone with a nickname of Fearless, she surely didn’t act very fearless. Avie does eventually grow up and realize how selfish she is. She realized that she had it good as a rich-girl, and that the women and children who were poor had it a lot worse than being sold to a controlling millionaire. I liked Avie a lot better once she’s actually on the run, but she never really gets over being timid and afraid.
Now Sparrow, she’s my kind of girl. Ballsy and brilliant. She never wanted to be anyone’s property, she was smart and capable, and she wanted to help other girls. I also really liked Maggie. She was willing to sacrifice a lot to help the country and she was determined to make a difference. (I definitely do not like how either of these stories turns out).
Even with all the flaws, I was invested in the story. I really wanted Avie to escape and then I wanted her to help the girls in the country. Then the ending happened, and I’m just really confused about the ending. There is no resolution at all. I could understand if there was some sort of set up for a second book, but Goodreads is showing that this is a standalone. There is just so much that could have been done for the ending...and it really felt like that the story ended in the middle of the author writing it.
Overall, this was a good idea and concept, but didn’t have the best execution. If the main character would have been more likeable and actually fearless, maybe I could have overlooked the plot flaws. Or even if it would have had a resolution at the ending.
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To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.