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The Glass Arrow
by Kristen Simmons
Tor Teen, $17.99, 334 pp
Published: February 2015

“RUN. They’re here. The Trackers.”  From the first sentence Kristen Simmons promises (and delivers) a first-rate, suspenseful tale of a dystopian future. 

Ten generations ago, men and women lived as equals, all babies were welcomed, and women belonged only to themselves.  Now, girls are raised as property, to be auctioned off when they are old enough to breed.  Girl babies are kept or killed dependent on current census, boy babies who come too infrequently, are raised by keepers.  The problem is most of the women raised in captivity are no longer strong breeders.  Trophy hunts are held for rich magnates to bring down and capture a wild woman.  When a wild girl is captured and groomed for auction, rich men will pay huge amounts to obtain her.   But she must be a virgin or she is branded and sent to the pleasure houses instead.

Aya was born a free woman and raised in the wild.  Her mother taught her to think, hunt, fight, and hide.  Her mother has died and, at age 16, Aya is the protector of her small family – the ones who live with her in hiding.  They are an assortment of women and children who have gone into hiding rather than be caught and groomed for auction and a life of slavery.   

Now, Aya has been captured and given a new name.  She will do anything to escape the grooming facility.  The Garden is a prison-like facility surrounded by a poison stream and a tall electric fence, watched by guards and cameras.  But Aya, now called Clover, is desperate to escape.  Of course, each escape attempt, each fight with other girls gets her chained outside in Solitary, a fenced yard separate from the rest of the young women.  In Solitary, she has access to two allies:  Brax, a wolf she has raised from a pup has tracked her to the Garden, and Kiran, a mute young man who works in the stables across the poisoned stream. 

Through Kristen Simmons’ writing, Aya tells a story that seamlessly blends the now with her past, allows us to experience her fears, anger, and desperation, and opens our eyes to a horrific future society without civil rights. ~~ Marie Davis

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