Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"The Blondes" by Emily Schultz


Hazel Hayes has just moved from Toronto to New York City to study as a graduate student.  She hasn't had time to put down any roots in the city when strange things begin to happen.  Random deadly attacks are occurring throughout the city and elsewhere in the world, all of them committed by blondes.  What seems as a strange coincidence turns out to be much more deadly, a strange illness that turns blondes into rabid killers.

Just as this begins to happen Hazel discovers that she is pregnant, the result of an ended affair with a married professor.  As the killings become more frequent, Hazel decides to flee the city and return home.  But her light-hued hair puts up flags and she soon discovers that the home she knew has changed forever.  So to save her baby she searches out the one woman she thinks might be able to save her, but who isn't prepared for what Hazel brings into her life.

The Blondes by Emily Schultz is a mix of humour and apocalyptic thriller that provides not only a look at the complex relationships between women but a unique commentary on the importance of beauty in our society.  Hazel finds herself hiding out in a cabin in rural Ontario as "blonde fury" rages on in the world.  She is alone and talking to her unborn baby, telling her the story of the world she is about to enter, while trying to make sense of it all herself.

When I first read the blurb about this book, I knew I had to read it.  Being a blonde, I got such a kick out of the idea.  But as I began reading, my enthusiasm dampened.  I think Schultz did a fantastic job at keeping the balance between dystopia, comedy and social commentary.  It is a novel that can appeal to fans of the different genres.  But it just came across as an average offering in all three areas, not as something extraordinary.  

I think this is because my expectations of the book were much different from what I got.  I was expecting a fast-paced apocalyptic novel.  However, once I got past the fact that I wasn't getting that, I was able to see the book in a different light, one that moved the plot faster for me.  Once she returned to Canada and the themes of totalitarianism and rights came into play, it became a fascinating commentary and started to take on the eerie, "this could actually happen" tones that we all live in a dystopian story.

There are a lot of fantastic reviews of this book out there.  A lot of people have enjoyed this book from start to finish.  So I think what I really want to add to the narrative with this review is that it is a good book and it does make you think.  But try to put your expectations of what it is aside before your start reading.  And if you find it a bit slow in the beginning, push through because you will be well-rewarded.

I received a copy of this book from Random House of Canada.  The opinions expressed above are purely my own.

2 comments:

  1. Haven't heard of this book before but it sounds absolutely fascinating. And I'm trying to read more Canadian authors so I'm definitely adding this to my TBR!

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  2. I saw this on the list for books that were eligible for the Giller Longlist, at first glance I didn't think it was a book for me, but I decided I should try something new, it does look amusing. Thanks for the tip about a slower start and it isn't a face-paced book. Good review.

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