Review of the Book of the Unnamed Midwife by Meg Elison

Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend: Yes, but with reservations
I received a copy of this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is a dark, sometimes disturbing story that shows a post-apocalyptic world where a plague has wiped out almost all of the women and children, and a good portion of the men as well. The best way I can describe this book is a mixture of The Road and Mad Max, with a bit of The Handmaid’s Tale thrown in as well.

First off, I really appreciated the diversity in this book. I mean, you’ve got characters who are bisexual, gay, asexual (it’s not explicitly stated, but that’s the impression I got)…and POC characters too. Plus HELLO BAD ASS LADIES. This book was described as a feminist novel and it does not disappoint in that regard.

As fascinating as this book was, I found myself getting bored in some parts. There were entire sections where it seemed nothing happened. The narrator spent a lot of time wandering around on her own, with no real sense of where she was going. It made for some very slow parts. Although, these slower sections did allow for the opportunity to really get to know the narrator. I had a very easy time connecting with her, which helped pull me through the less exciting parts of the book.

That being said, this book is definitely not light reading. It tackles some disturbing and heavy issues; including rape, murder, child abuse, and a whole host of other issues. I feel these topics were handled well for the most part, however. And I will say this for The Book of the Unnamed Midwife: it makes you think. I finished the book yesterday evening and spent most of the night going over in my mind what I’d just read.

I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone because of all the topics broached. But, if you’re willing and able to push through the disturbing parts, you’ll find a thought-provoking novel that will likely stay with you long after it’s finished.


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