Eve of Man by Giovanna Fletcher and Tom Fletcher: Book Review

Hi everyone, I just wanted to write a quick preface to this review because I wanted to try something a little different and make these reviews a bit more structured. That way I think it will make it easier for people to skip to the information they’d like to know about and it will make sure I’m not missing anything out! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments.

I’d also like to take a second to apologise for the lack of posts the last few weeks. Honestly, I’ve been really struggling with writing content that I’ve felt engaged with recently and alongside having a bit of a dip myself mentally I just needed a little break. I also had a little Instagram break as well to see if that helped boost me up a little. I’m not sure how exactly it made me feel but it did make me delve a little deeper into how social media can affect me.

I’ve been appalled at the lack of books I’ve been reading recently so made it my mission to read something this month and a few people recommended to me Eve of Man. I actually received some great suggestions, which I want to get to in the coming months but it made me determined to try and write at least one book review or book related post a month. I’d also like to focus on finishing some of my writing projects (aka a novel) outside of this blog so I may not be able to post as often as I like sometimes.

But for now let’s just get on with this review…

Blurb

This is actually the preface to the book but it is freely available from the Penguin website so I’ve copied it here.

On the first day no one really noticed. Perhaps there was a chuckle among the midwives at the sight of all those babies wrapped in blue blankets, not a pink one in sight. Individual hospitals would’ve thought nothing of it. They wouldn’t have known that this day of blue was only the beginning.

On the second day they frowned, confused, at another twenty-four hours of blue.

Just boys.

How baffling. Still, they assumed it was nothing more than coincidence. The Y chromosome was just making more of an appearance than usual.

On the third day, the media made light of it ‒ It Really Is A Man’s World. That brought the situation to everyone’s notice. Doctors and nurses realized theirs wasn’t the only hospital to go blue. Blue was taking over. Not just entire hospitals, not just entire countries, but the entire world.

Where had the pink gone?

With approximately two and a half million babies born each week, half of whom were usually girls, the sudden imbalance couldn’t be ignored. World leaders were called together with the most respected scientists to try to understand what was happening and discuss measures they could take to monitor the situation. They had to find an ethical way of working– they didn’t want to strip people of their human rights. That was what they said.

Initially.

At first it was a phenomenon, but soon it was threatening the survival of humanity, leaving us all on the brink of extinction. That was when governments stopped being nice. When women became more controlled and oppressed than ever before.

Compulsory tests were carried out. To start with, pregnant women were screened to identify the sex of their unborn children. Then, as more time passed with no females born, all women under the age of fifty were examined in an attempt to determine the cause of the blue generation.

Sex was encouraged – those in power wanted lots of babies in the hope that the odds would eventually favour girls. And there were girls – they were spotted in utero, bouncing around in the amniotic fluid and nudging their mummies with their flailing arms and legs.

Not one survived.

Eventually those cases disappeared. There was no pink to be seen . . . or lost.

Science battled for years. And years. And years. No cause was found. There was no breakthrough. Without a cause there could be no cure. The future of humanity was ticking away with the biological clocks of any remaining fertile women.

They would never give up, the world was told. They would save the human race. Somehow.

And the people played their part. They prayed. Prayed to many gods to grant them rebirth of their kind. For a long time it seemed no one was listening. The people prayed harder, for longer, calling on different all-powerful beings with urgency. They unearthed old religions, forged new ones, and muttered their worshipful chants with longing.

Then, after a fifty-year female drought, a miracle happened – and it didn’t occur in a sterile science lab.

Corinne and Ernie Warren had been married for twenty-five years. They’d always wanted children but it seemed Mother Nature wasn’t on their side. Corinne suffered miscarriage after miscarriage until eventually the couple gave up their dream to become parents. She was struck off as a potential carrier when she was forty-three. They accepted the failure with much sadness and a hint of relief. They’d been beaten down by grief so many times. They were broken, but at least they had each other to cling to.

At fifty-one, eight years later, Corinne unexpectedly fell pregnant. Naturally. She and Ernie were thrilled, but full of fear. What if this baby was taken from them like all the others? They couldn’t face another miscarriage.

Like every woman, Corinne was screened – but, unlike other women, she and Ernie welcomed the tests. They wanted to be sure their baby was fit and healthy ‒ they wanted to do all they could to ensure the safe arrival of the little being they already loved so much and for whom they would do anything.

Their hearts leapt when they saw their creation stretching on the ultrasound. Their baby. Their joy. For the midwife dealing with Corinne, the screening process had become routine – a monotonous series of tests with invariably the same outcome. She didn’t expect to see anything but blue.

But there it was.

Pink.

And her appearance made quite an impact.

It caused a panic. The result in that examination room sent shockwaves of hysteria rippling around the globe. People couldn’t believe that good news had come at last. They were longing to be told more about the couple who offered them a glimmer of light.

But Corinne’s medical history of miscarriages, her age and the fact that no girls had survived in utero for decades was a cause for concern. Corinne and Ernie were moved into a specialized medical facility to maximize the chances of the pregnancy going full-term. Other than daily scans, no tests were carried out. This time Mother Nature was allowed to take her course – at least until there was any reason to interfere. Perhaps it was time to trust the human body again.

Corinne and Ernie understood the need for monitoring their baby’s development and the desire to keep their daughter safe. They welcomed the medical advice. They were happy their child was as special to others as she was to them. She had to be kept safe. They didn’t resent the restrictions placed on them. Or that they were allowed no visitors at all. They agreed they’d do whatever it took to bring their baby safely into the world.

There were complications in the delivery room. Mother and daughter were left fighting for their lives. Corinne died soon after giving birth, having fulfilled her life’s ambition to become a mother.

Ernie was grief-stricken, unable to deal with the loss of his wife. Incapable of being a father.

He never held his daughter.

Never kissed her.

Never told her he loved her.

And what of the baby girl?

The world had waited for her arrival with bated breath, longing for the news that their hopes had been realized, that their girl had been born.

She had.

Against all odds, she survived.

She was the first girl born in fifty years.

They called her Eve.

She represented the rebirth of the human race. She was the answer to their prayers. She was all they cared about, their final hope.

Eve was the saviour of humanity.

I am Eve.

Judging a book by its cover (cover review)

The cover for me screamed that this was a futuristic story from the simplistic but punchy design to the dark colours used in the background. However, the lines just at the bottom that read ‘How do you choose between love and the future of the human race?’ show this is a story that isn’t content with just letting the cover do the talking and felt more needed to be said. The circular design in the middle remained me of the cover of Florence Welch’s new book which also has a cut out section with a design underneath though that is a square. I’m not sure if this is a trend I’ve missed or a new trend but I thought it interesting to note. The ‘e’ on this cover also is intriguing for those who don’t what the story is about because of the use of the symbol used to represent femininity.

This honestly, isn’t my favourite type of cover simply because the colour palette or style doesn’t draw me in. I think however after reading the novel that the cover does a good job of being symbolic of the writing style and the novel’s contents.

Eve of Man

Review (not spoiler free)

I had high hopes for this novel after receiving lots of positive reviews from my friends and I’ll preface that for the most part I enjoyed this. I’ll also by picking up the other two books in this trilogy when they’re released (if you’re not a aware this book is the first in a trilogy). The writing style was easy to follow and I loved having the dual perspectives of Eve and Bram throughout the story. Sometimes, having multiple viewpoints in a novel can be redundant or even confusing but this never felt unnecessary to me and really helped fuel the romantic elements of the story. My friend actually said she preferred Eve’s chapters due to liking Giovanna’s writing style more. In fact, I preferred Bram’s chapters because I found that part of the story more interesting because you get to see a lot of possible future plot points.

I think the main issues I had with the novel was personal preference to be honest. The idea was so interesting that I just wanted more but from a slightly more adult view. Though, some things I think would have still have a place in a Young Adult novel, like, for example if it was more freeing to be homosexual in this society or if a desire for female offspring in fact made it worse. The novel does in fact feature men kissing when they’re out of the tower and in the real world but no further detail is gone into.

I hope in future novels as well that they delve into the narrative and show that they men they portray as sexually frustrated and are just expected to assault Eve is a product of  values they’ve been taught and conditioned (and how that’s not acceptable).

I also think the story would have more interesting if Eve was not your stereotypical Young Adult heroine. What would have happened to the story if she was homosexual? Transsexual? Or simply not conventionally attractive? Imagine all that expectation being the youngest female on the planet (and regarded as essentially the only female) and you don’t meet the physical expectations of the masses.

However, this is a love story through and through. Hence, why each chapter is penned by one half of a married couple and each character resembles their real life counterpart. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s relatable to a lot of people but to me it just reminded me a little of all the parts of Young Adult fiction I could never relate to.

Serious issues are however brought up. How could they not considering the subject matter? The whole novel in a way toys on the edge of whether IVF itself is natural considering the fact that it appears to be ‘love’ and ‘mother nature’ that brought Eve into the world, which I’m sure is not what the authors intended and might need to be clarified a little bit into future novels.

Eve’s name is of course biblical in origin but I also wonder if Bram is referring to Abraham, a key figure in the bible. Please correct me if I’m wrong here but from what I’ve read Abraham is guided by God to leave the house of his father and settle in a new land. Perhaps, there is some reflections to be made then considering the content of the novel.

Overall, like I’ve mentioned a lot of criticisms I have my be a little unfair for the novel’s category as it’s aimed at a younger readership. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tackle complex ideas or big themes – I just wish it had pushed the envelope that tiny bit further.

This novel is also just got too interesting a concept for me to put it down. However, I keep wondering all the way through; if she’s the only female are the rest of the human race to be born out of incest? That I’m still not sure of so if you can clarify please go ahead!

Rating 

3/5 – ‘enjoyable, gripping but I was hoping for a bit more’

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