Today's book review is A Brother's Price by Wen Spencer.
This is a standalone novel, unrelated to any of Spencer's other works.
I had thought that I'd read all of Spencer's published novels, but I'd somehow missed this one. It's sort of a fantasy, in that it takes place on an alternate earth. There's no magic, but technology roughly that of America in the early 1800s. There seems to be a very stable society that's built up hundreds of years of history with all of the social fabric tied to the fact that in this world there are about 10 women for every man. The resulting society is laid out in detail and is internally consistent enough to be very believable. It reverses every traditional assumption in our society about gender roles; obviously, it's intended to force the reader to think about how society treats women. I think a lot of people would find it annoyingly heavy-handed. I also think that it would make a lot of people squirm when they realized how uncomfortable the gender role assumptions feel when they're reversed, because they probably realize that they wouldn't find any of the situations anywhere near so uncomfortable if they weren't reversed.
The plot is a little thin -- some things just fall perfectly into place after they're suggested, without really working for them -- but it's a pretty fair adventure and the characters are likable. One huge, glaring physics-violation plot hole that I'll mention under the cut. A fun read, but the story is too shallow to be great. The gender role speculation is interesting, but again doesn't rise to the level of great.
8 out of 10.
( plot highlightsCollapse )
( plot holeCollapse )