Graced by The Grace Year: A Must Read

“‘In the county, there’s nothing more dangerous than a woman who speaks her mind… We’re dangerous creatures. Full of devil charms.‘”

The Grace Year – Kim Liggett

My Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In Summary of The Grace Year

Kim Liggett’s coming-of-age novel imagines a society that condemns their young women to complete isolation in the wilderness for a year as soon as they turn sixteen; during this time, called The Grace Year, the girls must rid themselves of what society perceives as their “magic”.  

However, the heroine, Tierney James, wants to know this: Is this “magic” real, and what exactly is it? Why must women be rid of it and return to society like a broken animal just to serve the man that is waiting to wed his property?

Tierney quickly learns whom she can – and can’t – trust among the group of girls for survival, while remaining true to her values. Additionally, she must consider what a romantic relationship can look like for a feminist like her. Meanwhile, poachers lurk on the outskirts of the camp, waiting to skin alive any Grace Year girls who stray from the group; they torture them to ensure potency of the “magic” that they return with to society – all bottles containing skin and body parts of the unlucky ones. 

Who will make it home, and what will become of Tierney in her patriarchal world?

Warning: Graphic violence 

PositivesNegatives
Continuous plot twists until the very end that are not always obviousVery gorey descriptions of violence and murder
(only a negative, though, if this tremendously bothers you)
Strong female character
A variety of character types represented
Fast-paced writing style that is addicting to read

And I wonder if this is the magic taking over. Is this how it starts – the slip of the tongue? A loss of respect? Is this how I become a monster the men whisper of?

The Review

My faith in dystopian novels has been revived. 

I absolutely loved this The-Handmaid’s-Tale-plus-The-Hunger-Games plot mixed with a pinch of The Lord of the Flies; yet, you emerge from it having read something brand new. Kim Liggett crafts Tierney’s character to be likable and relatable, yet a feisty heroine that knows what she wants. However, her character isn’t so rigidly characterized that she is unable to learn and adjust according to the needs of those around her; she is still a giver of empathy even to her enemies. (We all need to learn a little from Tierney.)

Normally I would say that the tomboy-ish, rebellious, teen, female role is overused; I admit that I feared this when I first met Tierney at the start. So *snaps* to Liggett for reviving this character trope for me.

I must admit, however, that I sometimes had to put this book down to let my stomach settle.

Yes, it really is that gorey. (Nicely done, Liggett, you are a description master!)

Please do not let this warning scare you off though – if the Grace Year girls could live it, then you can read it! Liggett’s ability to capture scenes vividly and fearlessly makes it that much more interesting. I am not saying that I am personally intrigued by the merciless skinning of people alive (okay… as concerning as this sounds, I promise I’m at least fairly normal), but, wow – I was like a little girl watching these scenes between my fingers. 

In addition to action, this book has romance woven into the plot which adds interest and reveals complexities in Tierney’s character.  I mean, what’s more romantic than trying not to be skinned alive, right? 

All jokes aside, Tierney must face the fact that perhaps not all men have evil, misogynistic intentions, challenging the perception that society created for her. However, I will stop there to avoid spoilers. 

This was – hands down – one of the best books I’ve read in awhile. If you like thrillers, dystopian fiction, and feminist themes, pick this up! You won’t be sorry!

The Grace Year Book Information

  • Published: 2019
  • ISBN: 978-1250145451
  • Format: Paperback

Learn About & Support the AuthorKim Liggett

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