“They have been waiting, and she is the first.”
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I first read this book five years ago and I re-read it about once or twice a year. Why? Because there has been some event that reminds me how relevant this book is. It is, to date, one of my top 5 favorite books of all time. It is explicit. Krylov makes no apologies when it comes to writing Erotica and she shouldn’t because her works are stunning. I feel like I should begin by defending Erotic Fiction as I know a few people who don’t care for explicit books. Let’s skip the sex is normal spiel (because this is obvious) and talk about using sex in literature. I find that explicit scenes can further a plot and unveil more about a character than anything else. A persons sexuality sets its roots deep, shaped by history and experience. We guard sexuality, a nuanced secret only told to few. How someone reacts to touch and intimacy is telling. What someone finds attractive is telling. Sexual preferences and fetishes, the way they’re hidden or advertised says a lot about a character. I know there are many books out there that use sex as a marketing tool, meaningless scenes that do nothing but sell because as the saying goes-sex sells; however, there are authors out there like Krylov that wield these scenes like a weapon with purpose and strength. So yes, this book is explicit and there is f/m scenes, m/m scenes, and f/m/m scenes but I promise if you’re not put off by any of that, you will enjoy this book because it is so much more than sex.
After follows a post apocalyptic society where men outnumber women ten-to-one. The novel spans two generations of women and their sacrifices to change this oppressive and decrepit new world. In the first part of the story, 18-year-old Eva stumbles upon a military base that belongs to a group of surviving soldiers who haven’t seen a woman in years. What follows are two men trying to control and protect Eva while simultaneously trying to further and better the human race-just in vastly different ways. In the second part of the story, she introduces Nix, a bad ass female protagonist and warrior for the Resistance. Men capture, torture, and rape her but she escapes with the help of a man she’s forced to survive with. As she tries to head back to the Resistance to further their cause, she finds a connection to Eva that has survived even the worst circumstances of their new world.
When I first finished this book, I was absolutely filled to the brim with heartbreak, anger, and yet hope. This was the first book of Krylov’s I read and I was in awe of her talent. I will add that this book kick started my journey in identifying what Feminism means to me. Reading Historical fiction and non-fiction, solidified them. Does history tend to repeat itself? Would it in this situation? Yes and no. I’m sure you can guess that all does not bode well for women in this post apocalyptic hell. The difference between the oppression in Krylov’s novel and that of history is that women and men remember the freedom of women where women and men in history were generally complacent because they didn’t know any better and because men kept it that way.
Krylov uses her experience in writing Erotica to delve deeply into touch, intimacy, but mostly consent. She explores survival. Just as she doesn’t shy away from the explicit, she highlights the men that do terrible things. She then brings them to their proverbial knees in scenes where you’re forced to see beneath their terrifying masks to the scared and desperate boys underneath shaped by their survival. Post apocalyptic worlds tend to elevate the worst of humankind, the kind that can charm and manipulate. They know what people want to hear in the midst of desperation and fear. They know people need a leader, that sheep need a wolf. They prey on the weak and enforce others to do the same. The result is a world where young girls are sold to men, their very survival resting on a shaky foundation of their uteri and virginities. The rest of the girls and women are slaves, their own survival paid for by forced sexual acts and rape. Where Eva is written as Goddess-like, Nix is the warrior, but both make sacrifices in efforts to kill the wolf.
I still to this day think of this novel often and its characters. It doesn’t help that its more relevant now than it ever has been. This is not a book for everyone but I stand firm in my opinion that everyone should read it. You will ask yourself what touch means to you. You will ask yourself how would survival change you? You will wonder how important your body and consent is above all else? You will actively remember the scenes from this novel, the ones that made you cry and broke your heart and know that every little thing matters in the war on women; today and in the future.