Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 4 stars
In the future, women are viewed as commodities. Their value is based on their breeding ability. They are kept in confined areas where they are primped and pampered in order to sell to the highest bidder. If they prove to be of value (by birthing a male) they may be kept around the household for a while as a forever wife. If not, they’re thrown back out into society as damaged goods.
Aya was born out in the “wild;” she was born free which makes her doubly valuable when she’s captured. Once confined to the “garden” where they keep the eligible girls, Aya immediately starts trying to figure out ways to avoid the monthly auctions. By the time The Glass Arrow starts, Aya has been locked up for 107 days. She’s gone to auction once. She picks fights in order to be sent to solitary confinement that consists of being chained to a stake in the middle of a field with a guard watching you 24/7. Aya doesn’t mind solitary as it allows her visits from her adoptive wolf pup Brax whom she discovered during a different solitary stay (noticing a trend?). This time, however, she meets someone new. A driver whose job it is to take care of the horses for the magnates in the city. Drivers don’t have the ability to speak, and Aya finds herself confiding all her secret hopes and fears to this boy, but regardless she still doesn’t know if she can trust him.
Aya’s determination really drives the story. One way or another she will get back her freedom, even if it comes down to sacrificing herself, Aya wouldn’t falter, but her main concern is making sure her remaining family is safe first and foremost. She doesn’t discard others who may need her help, but the point is most of the women and girls in captivity don’t want any help. They don’t view their situations as bad because it’s been ingrained in their upbringing for hundreds of years that this is their lot in life, they don’t know any different. It’s really quite sad.
The relationship that develops between Aya and Kiran (a name she gives him since he cannot speak to tell her his name) is so tentative and sweet. It forces Aya to acknowledge that she can still belong to someone and be free at the same time. I also have to give Kristen Simmons major props for writing such an interesting character with no dialogue.
There’s no definitive time period given for the setting of the story. There’s references made to electric cars, and based upon some of the modifications forced upon those in servitude to the wealthy, we can assume it’s the future. Although the story reads as though things have developed and gone so far ahead into the future that we’ve started to regress.
I appreciated the singular view that Kristen Simmons decided to take on the story. Instead of making it an epic story of change (in which case this would not be a standalone), it’s the story of one girl’s struggle for the life she wants. It’s Aya’s determination of self-worth and what it means to be free. By simplifying the scope we’re able to see the true deterioration in society. Although by the end of The Glass Arrow Kristen Simmons does leave readers with a great sense of possibility and hope for the future.
Sexual content: References to sex