Motherland



Children Of Men Meets The Handmaid S Tale In This Bowstring Taut, Visceral, And Incredibly Timely Thriller About How Far A Mother Will Go To Protect Her Son From A Hostile World Transformed By The Absence Of Men Most Of The Men Are Dead Three Years After The Pandemic Known As The Manfall, Governments Still Hold And Life Continues But A World Run By Women Isn T Always A Better PlaceTwelve Year Old Miles Is One Of The Last Boys Alive, And His Mother, Cole, Will Protect Him At All Costs On The Run After A Horrific Act Of Violence And Pursued By Cole S Own Ruthless Sister, Billie All Cole Wants Is To Raise Her Kid Somewhere He Won T Be Preyed On As A Reproductive Resource Or A Sex Object Or A Stand In Son Someplace Like HomeTo Get There, Cole And Miles Must Journey Across A Changed America In Disguise As Mother And Daughter From A Military Base In Seattle To A Luxury Bunker, From An Anarchist Commune In Salt Lake City To A Roaming Cult That S All Too Ready To See Miles As The Answer To Their Prayers, The Two Race To Stay Ahead At Every Step Even As Billie And Her Sinister Crew Draw CloserA Sharply Feminist, High Stakes Thriller From Award Winning Author Lauren Beukes, Afterland Brilliantly Blends Psychological Suspense, American Noir, And Science Fiction Into An Adventure All Its Own And Perfect For Our TimesMotherland

www.laurenbeukes.com

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  • Hardcover
  • 416 pages
  • Motherland
  • Lauren Beukes
  • 05 November 2019
  • 9780316267830

10 thoughts on “Motherland

  1. says:

    If Broken Monsters was Lauren Beukes s great Clive Barker novel, then Afterland is her great Stephen King novel By the way, I personally hate it when blurbs state breathlessly that if you loved x by y then this is JUST the book for you because it is MORE of the same Beukes has carved a niche for herself as one of the most innovative speculative genre writers at work today, on the same level as Clive Barker and Stephen King I deliberately use the term speculative , as opposed to the restrictive horror or SF , because she is one of those writers who effortlessly transcends and transforms genre, while adding a uniquely South African twist.We have been waiting a long time for Beukes to finish her next book In a live Facebook launch for Afterland, with the actual event cancelled due to the ongoing lockdown in South Africa, Beukes admitted that while it took her five years to finish Afterland, she was busy with a range of other projects during this time, from comics to a book of essays and short stories.She said that the first three chapters were the most difficult to write, as she struggled to slip into the skin of her characters Eventually she came to the inevitable realisation that her bad guy would have to be a woman, and thereafter everything clicked into place.Beukes added that she ended up cutting about 50 000 words of back story, which must have been a brutal editing process But the rigorous discipline and commitment to her story that this implies is abundantly evident in the final product.There is not a single superfluous or misplaced word in this nearly 350 page book Despite its length, it does not feel overlong at all Neither are there any lulls or those kinds of filler patches that so many big books seem to have these days The chapters are short and punchy, but not so staccato like as to disrupt the narrative and turn it into a series of vignettes.I am reminded of the frog being boiled alive analogy Once you are in the velvet grip of this book, Beukes ratchets up the suspense until the tension is almost unbearable The alternating viewpoints between Billie and Cole as they engage in a desperate cat and mouse road trip across a post apocalyptic America is seamless and riveting.The level of detail in the book points to a mindboggling amount of research by Beukes In her afterword she mentions that she travelled many of the same roads as her motley group of characters.Yes, there is a rather cheeky Interlude towards the middle that gives us the lowdown on this particular prostate targeting virus that has wiped out the bulk of the male population worldwide, but it comes at a crucial turning pointing of the narrative that effectively bookends the two parts of the book Before and After.As with the best kind of apocalyptic fiction, Beukes is far interested in the reconfiguration of society that takes place in the wake of her fictional pandemic, and the new forms of social organisation, interaction, and of course deviancy and pathology that results.Here the Sisters of All Sorrows, juxtaposed with the Barbarella sex club, are perfect examples In a perfect example of how fucked up society can become, and the cognitive dissonance that defines so much of our world today rich poor, haves have nots, East West, white black, etc , Barbarella is by far the welcoming and humane institution than the shelter with a prayer and mortification offered by the psycho Sisters.Miles having American cousins allows for a big family get together every few years across the hemispheres affords Beukes the strategic opportunity to let the reader see America through Cole s South African filter There are a lot of comparisons between similar landscapes, for example, and the differences between cities South African colloquialisms which will probably seem like neologisms to American readers pepper the text, making for a weird dissonance that is as comforting as it is disquieting.And few writers can do disquiet or creepy existential dread erupting into appalling violence quite like Beukes Which means that reading this book during South Africa s lockdown due to a global pandemic makes for a truly surreal reading experience.There are many instances where the book seems spookily prescient the shortage of sanitiser, rigorous hand washing becoming a ritual of daily life, the worry that a cure will never be found that it seems ripped from the headlines of today s newspapers.Given the amount of time that Beukes spent on this book, the last thing she must have anticipated was writing a version of a reality that was about to become so frighteningly and alarmingly clear I am reminded of Ali Smith s Seasonal Quartet and Dave Hutchinson s Fractured Europe books, both writers who also tapped into the zeitgeist with a lightning rod.In the wake of the success of the television adaptation of The Handmaid s Tale, there seems to have been a spate of novels focusing on female dystopias, such as Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King, The Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich and The Power by Naomi Alderman, to name but a few.Beukes breathes fresh life into the sub genre by taking a rather unique spin on her dystopia as a tabula rasa for a potential brave r new world She was asked during the Facebook launch as to what is the purpose of reading such a difficult and upsetting book during the current crisis Surely an escapist beach read is best to forget our current troubles.Beukes replied that the book allows the reader to project their own version of Afterland onto current events In other words, we are at a unique fulcrum of history, where the decisions we take post crisis will shape our future for generations to come We are all like Cole and Mila, driving headlong into an unknown future, armed only with our hope and belief in our enduring humanity.

  2. says:

    You can t imagine how much the world can change in six months You just can t Except that, now, of course we all can3.5 stars rounded up to 4 I ve read all of Lauren Beukes novels and my favorites are Zoo City and The Shining Girls The thing I love most about this South African author is her knack for wildly inventive plot lines criminals who gets assigned animal companions or time travelling serial killers That said, I thought the story line for Afterland was the most normal of everything she s done until now not necessarily a bad thing, especially in a time when most of us are drawn to easy reading books.The story is set in the future where 99% of men are dead after a global man plague Cole and her twelve year old son Miles are on the run from her sister and a group of boy traffickers, but they also have to be on the look out for the Department of Men who wants to quarantine all surviving males I found the mention of hand washing, sold out hand sanitizer, conspiracy theories, financial markets crashing and hospitals being overwhelmed a bit eerie and very prescient.The writing is edgy, and I especially liked the parts where Billy sociopath sister is high on drugs while trying to catch up to Cole and Miles, as I felt like I was deep under the influence myself The author uses a cool trick to point out how chauvinistic some of us are still in our thinking, by always mentioning a job description before the description of the person, and I found myself having to constantly change my picture to female from male a few sentences after we were introduced to a cop, security guard, taxi driver etc The real issue being addressed in this dystopia is probably women and violence We are still very much programmed to think of women as nurturing even after watching shows like Game of Thrones and Ozark, so the brutality between females feels unnatural and or uncomfortable, but as the one of the characters in Afterland notes But girls have to prove You have to hit harder, meaner, crueler if you want to step into the Big Men s shoes when the future is going to be female.

  3. says:

    By now, a lot of us have read a lot of dystopias featuring sexual politics, often accompanied with some major disaster that leaves women a huge minority The Book of Etta or The White Plague or any number of bigger named modern authors This one flips the script Men are seriously endangered The few men left must deal with the patriarchy of women Yes, patriarchy Because let s face it, patriarchies are learned All told, I loved the worldbuilding There are a lot of great easter eggs and the research for the plague itself was brilliant The characterizations of Cole and Billy and Miles was pretty fantastic It reads like a convoluted cat and mouse, being on the run from the government and even from themselves.My only real concern is not a dealbreaker, but a personal preference The religious bits were fascinating and weird and well thought out BUT it wasn t exactly to my taste Or maybe it was, but where it eventually led was weird Maybe that s a product of having read soooo many dystopias where religion gets funky automatically, but I ll give Afterland this it doesn t go the same direction as the rest All told, I DO love the whole After Man take on the world It s down to earth and pretty damn realistic compared to, say, The Power Afterland is character led I m glad I got to read it.

  4. says:

    3.5 starsI have read most of Lauren Beukes s books and loved all of them She has always had this undefinable element to her stories that made them stand out From the bizzaro world of Zoo City to the creepy thriller The Shining Girls The fact that she is a fellow South African made reading her unique books even of a treat.With this latest installment however, I struggled to get completely lost in the story.There is not one glaring specific thing that bothered me just a few things that niggled in my periphery while reading.This is a world where 90% of men have been wiped out by a virus that targets only men and cause fatal cancer Any remaining males are hoarded into secure facilities and tested on like lab rats.In this world women had to step in the void left by men, and it was bothersome that most of these women were portrayed as nothing than men with vaginas Some of these characters reminded me of the main protagonist in Artemis, she was male than some men I know.If you take out the post apocalyptic theme of the story and replaced it with, say a woman running away from an abusive partner, 75% of the story would still be the same.Its not a bad story and I do not want to discourage anyone from reading it, but I think my expectations were sky high.

  5. says:

    Lauren Beukes is such an amazing author

  6. says:

    Purchase request submitted to library 3 7 19.

  7. says:

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.I love dystopian fiction and this book was fantastic It was very original The characters were great, very realistic I thought the ending was perfect Great book

  8. says:

    From my previous experience, it requires nerves of steel to go through a book like this.

  9. says:

    In a world where a virus has killed off 99% of the male population, Cole and her inexplicably immune son, Miles, are on the run from the worst person she knows her sister.The Stand meets Y The Last Man in the best way possible, it was just as much of a ride reading this as those two classics And so eerily timely it s hard to believe Beukes wrote Afterland last year Not even kidding, shortly after finishing the book I read an article on The Washington Post saying that the Corona Virus tends to favour men Slight Spoilers Ahead.I loved the characters The way Billie s post concussion, stream of consciousness point of view was written was nothing short of brilliant, and Cole s recollections of her time in Johannesburg, like partying at the Jolly Roger, somewhere I have spent a considerable amount of time myself, was a personal highlight And I really felt for Miles 13 years old and thrown into this new world without really being able to mourn the loss of his father, getting drawn into the propaganda of a religious group as he tries to find his place in the changed world, is a situation I think a lot of adults, never mind kids, would find themselves in.Afterland is part anxiety inducing, part eye opening, and quite possibly the perfect read for 2020.

  10. says:

    Let me preface this by saying, I m sorry for the rant about antibiotics, but this is a real and serious problem the world is facing right now.I didn t even come close to finishing it, didn t really start it either Got to about page 11 and just had enough of the writing style For a story that seemed original to me a post apocalyptic earth where most of the men have died out due to a viral outbreak the writing dialogue seemed anything but original arrest her, throw away the key for example that phrase wasn t so bad but it really is overused , but it got much worse with fad phrases like Holy living boys, Batman , the use of the word Hilaire instead of hilarious, Just saying or Living Your Best Life eww, stop , and Gotta catch em all As if an adult writing a story for adults would use the phrase Holy blah blah, Batman or reference Pokemon The writing is just so childish, seems like something a young teenager would think was cool And still, it got worse Besides the cringe worthy cool phrases, the author actually used a hashtag as a sentence bunkerlife Hashtags are meant to tag words to help others find a post, like on Reddit or StackExchange, they aren t phrases Again, something a tween would probably write say do Moving aside from all that, on page 11 the author then writes about how Miles the son took French for 6 months in school, then goes on to say which he sucked at, because back home in Joburg they did Zulu at school, not stupid French Now, maybe I was just offended because I am, and my heritage is, of French decent, but I wonder how the general populous would feel if I wrote a novel and flipped that phrase around to mock and degrade the Zulu language Yeah, I m sure that would go over oh so well Then again, I wouldn t do that because I see no point in debasing someone or something else just because I can t identify with it.I tried looking ahead to see if this type of cool writing would continue or to see if the story would get any better, and it didn t from what I saw The book gets pretty raunchy, some kind of sex club or sex slave traders at a place called Barbarella s again, so original , where someone standing outside is wearing a codpiece with a giant, erect purple dickover her jeans and that same giant purple joke of a penis wobbling in his Mile s peripheral vision or the even better description of a black and white photograph of a man s butt with a whip sticking out of it like a tail Wow Now, I m no prude, but why bother placing a 13 year old child in those circumstances or at the very least why write it that way for shock value Thanks, but I ll pass Now not only did the book not get any better interesting but it goes on to make light of and mock the way medical practices are controlled, as if the rules make no sense Not only is this ridiculous and uneducated that someone who obviously has no medical understanding thinks it a good idea to bash these rules, it s irresponsible In chapter 42 the author writes about how a cashier doesn t blink when Billie Cole s sister buy bullets, but the pharmacist refuses to give her antibiotics without a prescription Fucking America At this point, I would say the author, who is an adult, surely knows why pharmacists won t give antibiotics without a prescription but considering the rest of what I read saw, she obviously doesn t have a fucking clue Then let me enlighten you pharmacists can t give antibiotics without a prescription because a doctor needs to see you first and make sure that they are going to give you a strong enough antibiotic for a long enough period of time to fully kill off the bacteria inside you, that s why doctors say not to stop taking the antibiotics when you begin to feel better because if you do stop taking them and the bacteria isn t fully killed off, the bacteria will become immune to that strain of antibiotic which is how the likes of MRSA Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus and others were created, and not only do doctors need to ensure you are getting the proper antibiotics for the proper amount of time but they also need to know your medical history before prescribing such medicines, gonorrhea, for example, became resistant to many antibiotics because a doctor prescribed antibiotics to a patient for their cold without knowing the patient had the sexually transmitted infection, the antibiotics were either not strong enough or the patient did not have enough of them to treat the gonorrhea because it was for his cold and the infection became a much greater problem for everyone People who are not doctors thinking they know how or when to take antibiotics which is the reason why serious medical conditions are created, about 14% of Americans store their unused antibiotics that is than insane, it is extremely scary or buy them from flee markets of obtain them from other illegal means YOU ARE NOT HELPING YOURSELF OR ANYONE ELSE BY DOING THIS This is actually a huge problem right now as many illnesses are becoming antibiotic resistant and everyday, to the point where doctors have nothing to fight off some bacterial infections, think about that for a moment and the very real implications the world will suffer from it Okay, I think I made my point The book was definitely not for me and was a major let down.

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