Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

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Red Clocks
By Leni Zumas
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
ISBN 13: 9780316434812
Pages: 368
Genre: Dystopia/Feminism


Five women. One question. What is a woman for?

In this ferociously imaginative novel, abortion is once again illegal in America, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and the Personhood Amendment grants rights of life, liberty, and property to every embryo. In a small Oregon fishing town, five very different women navigate these new barriers alongside age-old questions surrounding motherhood, identity, and freedom.

Ro, a single high-school teacher, is trying to have a baby on her own, while also writing a biography of Eivør, a little-known 19th-century female polar explorer. Susan is a frustrated mother of two, trapped in a crumbling marriage. Mattie is the adopted daughter of doting parents and one of Ro’s best students, who finds herself pregnant with nowhere to turn. And Gin is the gifted, forest-dwelling homeopath, or “mender,” who brings all their fates together when she’s arrested and put on trial in a frenzied modern-day witch hunt.

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge Prompt: A book about feminism (I am counting this even though it is fiction because it certainly solicited some serious thoughts in regards to female rights and equality).

Following the lives of 4 women & a side character, Red Clocks presents a dystopian setting that explores the loss of women’s reproductive rights through a very unique narration that gradually exposes the varying impacts within society. Misogynistic politicians have made abortion and in vitro fertilization illegal with the enactment of the Personhood Amendment, going as far to charge lab technicians who drop specimens with manslaughter. Women who miscarry are forced to hold funerals and suffer the full cost. The Pink Wall now prevents women from crossing into Canada and obtaining abortion. Any woman doing so will be arrested and returned to their state for trial. And now on January 15th the Every Child Needs Two Act is about to take effect refusing single parent adoption.

First conjecture upon reading the synopsis would be to liken Red Clock’s to Atwoods’s The Handmaid’s Tale. They both approach the relevant and terrifying topic of societies where women are no longer equal and have lost the right to govern their own bodies. In that they are both powerful and necessary. But my experiences for both while rewarding, were unique.

Here Leni Zumas introduces us to five women:

Gin, “The Mender” – an isolated homeopath who lives alone in the forest and offers women services that women are no longer able to obtain. Viewed by the locale as a witch.

Susan, the Wife – A mother of two who finds herself disgusted with the situation of her marriage but unable to confront her husband.

Mattie, the Daughter – An adopted young girl who discovers she is pregnant with a child she does not wish to keep. Yet, current laws prohibit her from seeking an abortion.

Ro, the Biographer – A single, aging teacher and writer who wishes to become a mother. Insemination has been unsuccessful and her window for adoption is drawing to a close thanks to the Every Child Needs Two Act.

Eivør, a Polar Explore – A secondary character (not without significance) that is introduced as the subject of Ro’s current biography project.

It is through alternating chapters and perspectives of each woman’s life that Zumas presents us with an intelligent narrative and character study that is strangely devoid of emotion at times. While this can make for a taxing read, it soon becomes highly effective as we find that we are viewing this dystopian society as a reality.

Presented in a small Oregon town, there is nothing incredible occurring outside of the horrific laws in place and coming into effect. We are simply experiencing it as it is. As a part of life. And that alone is what makes Red Clocks not only compelling and effective but deeply unsettling. It blurs the lines between fiction and potential reality, daring the reader to face a possible future and ask what a woman is truly for.

Zumas’ writing is blunt and brazen, but also stylistic and enveloping. Though this is a heavy read, it is a fast one. I found myself unable to put Red Clocks down. I respected each character for their own strengths and flaws. I admired the author for encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone.  Aptly titled with a fitting cover, I am recommending this one to all!

Untitled design Read over several cups of Darjeeling tea.


Purchase Links: Book Depository

Happy Reading,

Danielle ❤

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42 thoughts on “Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

  1. Wow, “What is a woman for?” had me react quite violently. Actually so violently I almost stopped reading, haha! It’s Monday morning and I’m in fighting mode! I am glad I read your review, though, because it sounds like a hell of a book. I love the idea of a dystopian society that discuss all those current discussed issues. Fab review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This one was definitely a thought heavy read for myself. Perhaps the most successful aspect of it was how she portrayed it as normal life. It had already happening and the characters were living it. I found that approach to work well. I highly recommend it Emma 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the premise are similar in the fact that they address the loss of women’s reproductive rights, but for me the similarities stopped their. Atwood wrote a much more extreme scenario (fantastic by the way). This is more of a portrayal of life simply after the laws have passed. We experience it as is. For me, that was powerful. I hope you enjoy when you pick it up!


  2. Wonderful review Danielle! I read it on my way into work today but didn’t have enough signal strength to comment lol. I’ve been waiting for your thoughts on this one cause as you know, I gently kicked myself for not picking this one as my Jan BOTM! smh. I didn’t know this was a slower read but with that line-up of characters, sounds like something I would love. I’m so glad you enjoyed Red Clocks as you did The Handmaids Tale & that it stood on it’s own, I feared they’d be too similar. I actually ordered a copy of Handmaid over the weekend cause of you lol & you already know what’s getting added to my Feb BOTM 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Do add it! I am surprised to see how many seem to label it a knock off of the Handmaid’s Tale. Aside from addressing the loss of reproductive rights, the similarities are really limited. As you know, the Handmaid’s Tale presented a world where women lost almost all rights and it was extreme! This is a a narration that provides a look at what “normal” life would be if the mentioned laws were to be put in place. Equally terrifying but presented in an entirely different manner. I want you to read this so bad so we can talk about it haha ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah! I am excited haha. Hurry up and read it so we can chat about it 🙂 I am dying to discuss this book. I hope you enjoy as well as I have! Send me the link if you review please. I am offline so much due to health that I miss a lot.


    1. Thank you Lisa! I am sorry it did not work for you. It will probably be a top read of the year for me (ywah it is early to say that haha). But that is the beauty of reading. It is such a personal experience that we each take away our own individual feelings. I hope your current read is satisfying 💗


    1. I was shocked to see how many people rated it down calling it a knock off. It does address the loss of female reproductive rights, but in an entirely different manner. I personally felt that this was so subtle and realistic that it was actually very terrifying in that sense. I hope you are able to appreciate it. Happy reading my friend!


    1. I cannot recommend enough. I personally found it to be truly original. But I think most people automatically lump any feminist dystopian in as a knock to The Handmaid’s Tale which is a shame. I feel like we need to encourage literature like this that continues to explire these topics in all ways. 💕 The subtleness of this one made it most effective. I hope you read it!

      Liked by 1 person

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