Christina Dalcher once again turns her keen, incisive eye on the patriarchy ... Dalcher once again pushes the envelope by exploring a common, progressive ideal—in this case, feminism—and turning it on its head and into a dystopia. What makes her books so riveting and thought-provoking is her ability to question every step forward ... It is clear that Dalcher is a feminist herself, but I love her willingness to explore the dark side of every good thing and to shine the light on the darkest corners of every step forward. Her brain is full of keen insights and downright chilling twists ... a chilling, evocative read perfect for this time of year.
It’s a bit weird to create fictional villains who continuously spout biological essentialist rhetoric but leave the main victims of that thinking out of the narrative. Outside of Miranda’s attempt to speak up about hypothetical trans women that might come to Femlandia for sanctuary, trans people simply don’t exist in this world. And for a novel about toxic feminism in dystopia, that’s wildly unrealistic ... Miranda reduces the villains of Femlandia to 'misandrists' and 'man-haters' ... Such failures of imagination are disappointing in a book like this. Dalcher has an impressive command of suspenseful writing, complex character backstories with fairly seamless time switches, and emotionally charged inner dialogue. On a storytelling level, Femlandia keeps you glued to the page. But it doesn’t force you to think beyond its basic premise.
The bleak dystopian feeling can be immersive ... We meet moral quandaries, but the story is quite straightforward reading ... I was interested in seeing how the internal, inter-character and situational conflicts would be resolved by the author. Some of them get partially resolved and some do not, owing to a set-piece from a Jacobean tragedy; an easy escape, for which an early character was chided, seems to be the standby. Diverse characterisation is also scarce. We might have met more women, except that our guide Miranda most annoyingly spends almost all her time at Femlandia either unconscious, locked up for a month reading herstorys and womyn-authored fiction, or secretly creeping around the complex ... I suggest that this layered account could be read by an advanced late teen reader, only if they can cope with graphic violence; or by an adult, either for a psychological thriller or a deeper dive into aspects of the dystopian concept.