|Fish Seeking Bicycle by Kate Cooch|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Fresh perspective in this post-apocalyptic adventure novel. Themes of individual freedoms, patriarchy and masculinity with a great female central character.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 254||Date: January 2019|
|External links: Author's website|
This novel is set about a hundred years into the future. The world has been decimated by nuclear conflict and what's left of the old United States is run from Center City. Women run this world and it is very proud of having defeated the old patriarchy. Men must behave appropriately and deferentially at all times and, if they don't, are medicalised to keep their baser instincts under control. And if that doesn't work, they're sent to work camps, away from open society, or even worse: expelled to the wilderness beyond the Central Authority's borders.
Hazel Patel is being brought up by her mother and companion-mother. She wants to become a medical professional but prefers the idea of hands-on work to the safer teaching role her mothers would like. Hazel has always felt somewhat stifled by the overly risk averse environment she has been brought up in. She wants to travel and longs for adventure. In Center City, it seems to Hazel, everything fun is banned on safety grounds and the suggestions about behaviour are overly restrictive. But Hazel loves her mother and companion mother and so keeps her most rebellious thoughts to herself...
... until, one day, her mother is murdered and the investigating police counsellor lets slip that Hazel has a real, living father, not a sperm donor like most of her friends. Hazel sets out to find him and the truth about her birth, and the journey will lead her into dangers even her adventurous soul had never contemplated: a prison break, and a journey through the Wilderness in the company of work camp escapees, one of whom believes her to be a Center City spy. Hazel is going to have to learn to take risks and to think on her feet if she is to survive.
Oh! Fish Seeking Bicycle is an interesting read! Many dedicated YA readers will find it a challenge, I am sure. On the surface, it takes the form of a popular strain in fiction for young people, set in a post-apocalyptic future in which an authoritarian regime wields ruthless control against any and all dissent. It has a brave and resourceful female central character who is determined not to be silenced and to uncover the truth about the authorities in charge. There's even a nascent romance. So far, so predictable. But Fish Seeking Bicycle has a few awkward questions to ask, not least this one: is all masculinity toxic? The picture Cooch paints of a full matriarchy isn't a pleasant one. And she also has some points to make about the downsides of a risk averse society and the importance of individual freedoms, especially freedom of expression and belief. I think this novel will provide some interesting pauses for thought.
The worldbuilding is secure and robust and Hazel is an interesting character. Thrown from one belief system into another, she is bright enough and honest enough to interrogate them both for herself and come to her own conclusions about them. There's plenty of action to keep readers turning the pages and good narrative progression. I was glad to find that this first in a planned trilogy did not leave us on a frustrating cliffhanger but also gave us plenty to ponder on about what might come next.
I enjoyed the fresh perspectives in Fish Seeking Bicycle and am looking forward to seeing what comes next for Hazel.
You can read more about Kate Cooch here.
You can read more book reviews or buy Fish Seeking Bicycle by Kate Cooch at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Fish Seeking Bicycle by Kate Cooch at Amazon.com.
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