“Ammonite” by Nicola Griffith
Synopsis: Change or die. These are the only options available on the planet Jeep. Centuries earlier, a deadly virus shattered the original colony, killing the men and forever altering the few surviving women. Now, generations after the colony has lost touch with the rest of humanity, a company arrives to exploit Jeep–and its forces find themselves fighting for their lives. Terrified of spreading the virus, the company abandons its employees, leaving them afraid and isolated from the natives. In the face of this crisis, anthropologist Marghe Taishan arrives to test a new vaccine. As she risks death to uncover the women’s biological secret, she finds that she, too, is changing–and realizes that not only has she found a home on Jeep, but that she alone carries the seeds of its destruction. . . .
4 out of 5 stars
I am rapidly becoming a big fan of Nicola Griffith. Her Aud Torvington series will always be my favorite, but I’m finding that I really enjoy her other works as well.
This is a beautifully written book, and a fresh twist on a sci-fi novel. Our main character, Marghe, has signed up to be the first person to be experimentally vaccinated and sent to the planet Jeep which has suffered a plague virus that killed off all the men on the planet and changed the DNA of all the women.
We follow her as she arrives on the planet and begins her journey to explore the world and learn about the people living there. While she does interact with the other scientists and employees stationed there, most of her story is made up of her living with the native people, all women. The book is an exploration of the concepts of a one-gendered society and the challenges that may face.
I liked this book very much although I had a few issues with it.
Marghe takes off into the wilderness almost immediately upon arriving on Jeep. Not the smartest move as she knows next to nothing about how to survive and finds herself in extreme conditions. I found that Marge held herself apart from almost everything that happens to her – that things happen to her, not that she is a part of the happening. She comes across as passive most of the time and her escape from one situation was not at all thought out.
I found that the story line that did not involve Marge dragged on and on. The base camp for the interplanetary explorers and their story just didn’t connect with me. I understand that Marge could not have been dropped off on a strange planet and left but I skipped several passages that focused on the base camp.
I did enjoy this book though, all in all. It was very different and I really liked all the well thought out subcultures and people Marge meets in her journey. I do recommend this if you are looking for a sci-fi book with a feminist twist.
The cover is lovely.