I received this book for free from ARC from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Handmaid’s Tale meets Blood Red Road in Glass Arrow, the story of Aya, who lives with a small group of women on the run from the men who hunt them, men who want to auction off breeding rights to the highest bidder.
In a world where females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights, 15-year old Aya has learned how to hide. With a ragtag bunch of other women and girls, she has successfully avoided capture and eked out a nomadic but free existence in the mountains. But when Aya’s luck runs out and she’s caught by a group of businessmen on a hunting expedition, fighting to survive takes on a whole new meaning.
Tell us one thing we may not already know about you! (Something we cannot easily find on your web site.)
Hi Jenna and Crystal! Thank you so much for having me! Let’s see, one thing people don’t know about me… If I was a boy, my parents were going to name me Montana. So there’s that.
Why did you choose to write young adult novels?
I don’t think I made a conscious decision about it. I just wrote the story in my head, which just happened to have a young protagonist and a plot line that lent itself more toward this genre. I do love reading young adult novels though – I like the pace of them, and how every experience is fresh and new. I hope people reading my books feel that intensity.
What is the biggest obstacle you typically face when it comes to the act of writing?
Not eating everything in my kitchen. I’m a snackalicious writer. I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing when I’m in storyland, and three cakes later, I’m passed out on the floor in a sugar coma shouting, WHO DID THIS TO ME? WAS IT YOU, SEAN? (He would totally do that kind of thing.)
Where or how did the ideas behind the story and themes within The Glass Arrow stem from?
I wrote The Glass Arrow after reading a story in the news about a place in China where the female population was so low that men had started going outside their towns into the rural areas in search of a mate. The story grabbed me, and led me on a line of research, from human trafficking issues (girls being bought and sold is sadly not a problem I’ve made up) to the continued issues involving prejudice and sexism in the United States (just look at the pay discrepancy between men and women). The world of The Glass Arrow is fictional, but the issues behind it are sadly very real.
How is The Glass Arrow different from your Article 5 series? How is it similar?
The Glass Arrow is definitely more sci-fi than Article 5. It takes place in a different version of the world, ten generations in the future, where Article 5 is set in the near present, accounting for a major war in the US which has changed the structure of the government. There are different kinds of technology in Aya’s world, though most of them have been abandoned in efforts to return to a simpler way of life. Chase and Ember barely have access to a computer. Both Ember’s world and Aya’s face oppression, but in Article 5 that oppression stems from a militaristic government, where in Aya’s it stems from the patriarchy. Aya and Ember are both survivors, though Aya is born fierce, and Ember’s bravery is acquired over time. Oh, and there are swoon-worthy, secretive boys in both… Okay, I’d better stop before I go all night!
If there is ONE THING you would like readers to know about The Glass Arrow, what would it be?
That other people don’t determine our self worth, we do. That our importance and relevance is not reduced to the size of our pants or the shape of our bodies. That we are so, so much more than what others see on the outside.
Bonus question: If given the choice, would you rather eat frog legs or radishes?
Radishes! I’d probably like frog legs better, but there’s something about knowing they’re part of a frog which makes me very squeamish. That said, ew. Radishes. Gross.
Thanks so much for having me, ladies! I adore you both!
The Glass Arrow is a book that challenges all that exists in YA literature and dares to be a most shocking and intense experience for readers… You NEED to have this on your book shelf NOW.
Trust me. You do.
Kristen Simmons is an author who knows how to write. Perhaps it’s a natural talent – (obviously) – but perhaps it also comes from her background of working in the field of mental health. She knows how people (real or fictional) think. With this knowledge, she is literally a puppet master of the mind. Kristen feeds on our most visceral fears about the current state and the future of our society and creates realistic stories based on those fears.
Do you ever find yourself wondering why characters act the way that they do, given their incredibly dramatic, life-altering, mentally challenging situations? Sometimes characters come across as completely unrealistic, overly heroic or lacking true human emotion. In these cases the author cannot convince us, the readers, that they are real. This is not the case with Kristen’s characters. They are put through the ringer – as are most characters in fiction – but they respond and behave as real people should when facing trauma or dire situations. It’s such a jarring, humbling position; being in the mind of those who are either breaking down or acquiring strength from their circumstances at the hands of such a skilled writer.
I also appreciate how Kristen challenges gender roles in society with her story. Just by reading the synopsis – “females are scarce and are hunted, then bought and sold at market for their breeding rights” – you know the subject matter is going to be controversial. But Kristen throws some irony into the mix, with a strong female leading character and men who are as imperfect as they are powerful. Many feminist discussions will result from reading her story, where it’s the men who are frequently presented as faceless, voiceless and “unthinking” beings – all attributes that have, historically, been placed on women. But at the same time, I don’t entirely see Kristen’s story as a “feminist” one, either. You will find similarities to various publicly accepted practices, such as geisha, pageantry and only beautiful woman being presented on film. With so much symbolism and parallels to our own society, I imagine that each reader will react to the book differently, based on their own ideals and personal experiences.
There is one thing I always look forward to when controversial books I adore are released: and that is all the chatter they are bound to create. I hope to chatter with all of you now that the book is finally here!
So whether or not you’ve read (or even enjoyed) the author’s first series, Article 5, I encourage you to add The Glass Arrow (a standalone novel!) to your TBR/Wish List today. It is more daring, more challenging, more… everything… than anything that has been released in 2015, thus far.
Five oh, you controversial little devil, you emojis!
Share your excitement about The Glass Arrow in the comments below!