Title: A Girl Called Fearless
Author: Catherine Linka
Genre: YA, dystopia, romance
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin’s Griffin/May 6, 2014
How Did I Get It? Netgalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
From Catherine Linka comes this romantic, thought-provoking, and frighteningly real story, A Girl Called Fearless, about fighting for the most important things in life—freedom and love.
Where do I even begin… I can sum up my experience with this book in one word: disappointment. Linka had such a stunning, mind-blowing concept that I just about danced when I was approved for the egalley. But as soon as I got to reading, I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. It just didn’t go where I was hoping, at all. Rather than a thought-provoking exploration of sexism and womens’ rights in a unique dystopian world, as I was hoping, I read a shoddy attempt at a Romeo and Juliet type story. The focus was almost entirely on the romance after the first 15%, and that’s where it all went downhill for me.
When Avie is
bought Contracted by an asshat-who-shall-not-be-named, she immediately rebels and refuses to be brought under his sadistic, sociopathic control. To which I thought: “HELL YES GIRL YOU TAKE HIM DOWN.” And then Avie considers running, at the urging of Yates — AKA “he who thinks with his other brain” — and whoosh there goes my hope for an actual rebellion.
Here’s what I had hoped for: Avie marries the bastard, pulls a Margaery Tyrell, and takes the Paternalists down from the inside. Trophy wife turned into a certifiable badass. Politics, seduction, manipulation, shadows and assassins and general sneaking about.
Here’s what I got: 250 pages of pure selfishness on Avie’s part, complete and utter neediness, zero character development, and insta-love to the nth degree. Oh, and a somewhat love triangle with a country bumpkin who I actually kind of liked, but turned out to be a cardboard prop to provide some drama. Political standoffs and violent protests that actually gave me the flavor of rebellion I was hoping for, but were quickly forgotten as the romance and selfishness swept in again.
How is this girl called Fearless — that’s my question. The only fearless character was Ms. A; I would have loved to read this book from her POV, or even Sparrow’s (though she’s borderline crazy so I’m not sure if it’s fearlessness or just insanity).
Ultimately the plot became so convoluted and hard to follow, and yet nothing happened. Seriously. They sat in some hut in a frozen tundra and schemed pointlessly. The ending, meant to be heroic and inspiring, was really just an unexplained character 180 and a too-easy conclusion to the story. I’m not even sure it was a conclusion; I smell a sequel.
By the 80% mark, I was forcing myself to finish the book. If I wasn’t so close to the end, I would have DNFed. But I treated myself to dinner, sat in the restaurant, and didn’t leave until I had flipped to the last page. I’m sure I treated the patrons of Chipotle to a variety of disgruntled expressions, including but not limited to: puffed cheeks, pursed lips, furrowed eyebrows, eye rolls, and facepalms.
I will say this, though: the Goodreads average for this book is 4.11, so it may just be me. Ultimately, it just wasn’t what I was looking for from this concept, but it may suit someone else’s desires perfectly. If you want a star-crossed romance in the middle of a misogynistic society, mixed with daring escapes and death-defying plans, then you may enjoy it. But for me, hoping for behind the scenes/in the shadows/subtler plot twists, it just didn’t work.
My Final Rating: