July 2010

A new world order with a female face

By Lesley Hauge
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Lesley Hauge’s debut dystopian novel Nomansland is made for a sequel—no, more like a series. There’s got to be more of Keller, the brave heroine of Nomansland.

Barely 15, Keller lives only among women in Foundland, a rocky and barren island nation. Her people have been here for hundreds of years, ever since the Tribulation, a cataclysmic event brought about by the “sins” of the Old People (that’d be us, readers). The earth was wrecked and its people decimated, an entire civilization’s technology, televisions and even indoor plumbing lost. When Keller comes across one artifact from that time she’s mystified by what it is: a bicycle.

In the agrarian society in which Keller lives, everyone has a job—seamstress, blacksmith, wheelwright. She is a Tracker, trained to be an archer and an equestrian, able to survive on her own in the wild. “There are no men in our territory,” says Keller, and it is she who will protect Foundland from the “mutants” and “deviants” living outside their borders. They are the men who survived the Tribulation, and though they can try, they will never be allowed in.

Foundland is a totalitarian society where hair must be cut to regulation length and to be “useful” is deemed the highest of virtues. Reflection, Decoration, Vivacity—these are three of the “Seven Pitfalls.” Even friendships are outlawed. But for Keller, cracks in the social order begin to show. First, there’s Laing, a fellow Tracker with a dangerous streak of independence and free will, who offers small glimpses into the Time Before: beauty queens, fashion magazines, fathers? Then Keller discovers one sister’s long-held secret; what she learns—and how the all-knowing, all-seeing Committee Members react—drives the plot and keeps the reader avidly turning the pages.

Hauge has written a winning debut. Let’s hope she’s turning in that sequel real soon.

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By Lesley Hauge
ISBN 9780805090642

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