Thursday, July 01, 2010

Nomansland by Lesley Hauge

Sometime in the future, after devastating wars and fires, a lonely, windswept island in the north is populated solely by women. Among these women is a group of teenaged Trackers—expert equestrians and archers—whose job is to protect their shores from the enemy. The enemy, they’ve been told, is men.
When these girls come upon a partially buried home from the distant past, they are fascinated by the strange objects—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—found there. What are they to make of these mysterious things, which introduce a world they have never known? And what does it mean for their strict society where friendship is forbidden and rules must be obeyed—at all costs?

This book intrigued me because of this society’s rejection of anything feminine. Sure, some of the women wear skirts, but they are expressly forbidden to make themselves look or feel pretty. Today’s society has some women who want nothing to do with looking or feeling pretty, and other women who live for it. So I was curious to see how Hauge would create her society where pretty = vain, and wanting to look pretty results in punishments.

There are some interesting parallels in this story. The Foundlanders are Amazon-type women who run a tight ship, breeding hatred for men, and keeping the other women ignorant of many things in order to maintain that hatred (I’m betting that many don’t know where the ‘seed’ comes from). Then there is the leader, Ms. Windsor. She enforces her ‘thou-shalt-not-be-pretty’ rules on everyone else, but doesn’t completely follow them herself. She never actually breaks the rules, but she certainly bends them to suit her purposes. This reminded me a bit of Animal Farm. There are even Seven Pitfalls in Nomansland, like the Seven Commandments of Animal Farm.

Keller’s discovery of the objects that women used to wear—high-heeled shoes, teen magazines, make-up—put her in an interesting position. She has always had difficulty fitting in, and the information she learns makes that even more difficult. She finds ‘traitors’ in her midst, sees Ms. Windsor in a new light, and is presented with some very difficult situations that force her to make even harder decisions. All of this kept me glued to the pages.

But the concepts in this story haven’t been resolved yet since there is obviously another book to come. I am interested enough to want to read it, but I really have no idea whether or not I will love this story until I have read more of it. For now, I think it’s a good start.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a great book! It reminds me a little of "The Handmaid's Tale" because of the shame attached to wanting to be attractive. I'm putting this on my reading list.

Tabitha said...

It's a very interesting story. It's interesting enough for me to want to read more, which is more than I can say for some of the other trilogy books I've read recently... :) So I'd say definitely give it a try.