Blue Ticket
FROM THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE LONGLISTED AUTHOR OF THE WATER CURE'A gripping, sinister fable' - Margaret Atwood on The Water CureDiscover this chilling new novel about motherhood and personhood, free will and fate, human longing and animal instinctCalla knows how the lottery works. Everyone does. On the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. You are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. And, once you've taken your ticket, there is no going back.But what if the life you're given is the wrong one? Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.Praise for The Water Cure:'An eerie, uncanny feminist fable' Sunday Times'Bold, inventive, haunting. You'll be bowled over by it' Stylist'An unsettling dark fantasy . . . It lingers long after the final page' Daily Telegraph 'Visceral, hypnotic . . . with one of my favourite endings I've read in a long while' The Pool'Darkly gratifying, primal and arresting' New Yorker

Blue Ticket Details

TitleBlue Ticket
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 30th, 2020
PublisherHamish Hamilton
ISBN-139780241404454
Rating
GenreFiction, Science Fiction, Dystopia

Blue Ticket Review

  • Amalia Gavea
    January 1, 1970
    ''We lined up, waiting to pull our tickets from the machine, the way you would take your number at the butcher's counter. The music popular that year played from speakers on the ceiling. Just gravity enough. Not necessarily such an important thing, after all.'' Calla is waiting for a ticket. Blue ticket, white ticket. A lottery for a life without children. A lottery for a life as a mother and a wife. What passes as a game of chance between a ''care-free'' way of living and a full-blown respon ''We lined up, waiting to pull our tickets from the machine, the way you would take your number at the butcher's counter. The music popular that year played from speakers on the ceiling. Just gravity enough. Not necessarily such an important thing, after all.'' Calla is waiting for a ticket. Blue ticket, white ticket. A lottery for a life without children. A lottery for a life as a mother and a wife. What passes as a game of chance between a ''care-free'' way of living and a full-blown responsibility journey into motherhood is, in reality, a decision by the invisible forces that control the lives in this peculiar dystopian society. And Calla gets her blue ticket and is free to live her life, so to speak. She can do everything. Except becoming a mother. But it is never easy to accept that others have already decided what is ''good for you'' and her rebellion to earn the right to choose begins. ''I turned my face up to the night.'' In her new novel following the success of The Water Cure, Sophie Mackintosh sets her story within a dystopian community, but in a way that is subtle and extremely mysterious. Our focus isn't on the structure of this society, therefore do not expect a full-scale Dystopian universe and any comparisons (that are bound to exist) to Atwood are absurd. This choice results in a far better story than all the cliches we have witnessed lately. The heart of this journey lies in the strange absence of the authorities that hunt down the ones who violate the decision of the State. The people do this job instead, and the blindfolded search of Calla towards a possible way out of a tyranny that took everything from her.Calla is not the woman who knows for certain that she wants a child. Some of us are not keen to become mothers. This isn't a story about a strong, unbeatable inclination to have children. This is about choice. Her life seems somehow void of meaning, the man she dates is an absolute selfish bastard, and she starts wondering. She has doubts. We've all been there at some point in our life. Do I want a child? Do I want to change my life? But with Calla, the question is much more poignant. Why can't I choose? Who gave THEM the right to judge whether I am the paragon of motherhood or not? We can choose. We must. Calla doesn't have this luxury. And she becomes desperate, and watches the world passing by, becoming more and more vulnerable in sequences that are delivered through hypnotic prose, sometimes so raw that make you avert your eyes from the page. Calla does fall and needs to rise again. ''[...] for I was not fragile, I was not protectable, I was dark wind and dust blowing across a landscape, and there was nothing anybody could do for me.'' I understood Calla and I loved her character. Her doubts and fears felt oddly familiar. Her spirit, even audacity, at the beginning and the slow but certain downward spiral when everything seems to fall apart are given through poetic and confident writing and are brilliantly depicted. Why do we meddle Twitter movements with Literature? Why do we ''deny'' a book because of a certain punctuation and dialogue style? Why do we project our morality over a writer's choice? If we cannot abide with ''demanding'' styles and complex, controversial characters, then the word 'reader'' cannot be applied to us. Calling Calla a ‘’slut’’ and utterly overlooking the exceptional depiction of the solidarity amongst the women who demand their right to choose brings to mind the voices against the ones who support choice in all matters that have to do with our body and our life. I think we all know what I’m talking about...I am a fervent lover of choice, I’ve always been, I’ll always be.Written in a style that requires absolute attention and experience, Blue Ticket is as haunting as The Water Cure, and for me, it is even more interesting and relatable. It is beautiful, at times, mesmerizing and if you don't sympathize with Calla, you have no heart... ''My name is Calla, and I wanted to choose.'' Many thanks to Penguin and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
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  • Nilufer Ozmekik
    January 1, 1970
    Oh no! For a long time I didn’t give any book two stars and I didn’t get disappointed by a book but well you cannot always get what you wish for.For celebrating empowerment of women I chose this reading for this special day and of course that beautiful, haunted, effective cover stole my heart from the first look but as soon as I flip the pages and try to get lost in this dystopian, disturbing, eerie story, I didn’t get the special and rare taste that I was looking for. Maybe I wanted to be charm Oh no! For a long time I didn’t give any book two stars and I didn’t get disappointed by a book but well you cannot always get what you wish for.For celebrating empowerment of women I chose this reading for this special day and of course that beautiful, haunted, effective cover stole my heart from the first look but as soon as I flip the pages and try to get lost in this dystopian, disturbing, eerie story, I didn’t get the special and rare taste that I was looking for. Maybe I wanted to be charmed by some special world with its authoritarian manifesto, ruled by a group of despots force the women doing choice without their free-will and consent kind of earth shattering, thought-provoking reading. Especially when I read the promotions indicate this book is some kind of smart Atwood-ish masterpiece, it made me more curious and I couldn’t wait to get this into my hands.But there are too many things failed me in this book which are:-Lack of world-building: I got that story takes place in a dystopian alternated universe and when the girls start to menstruate, they’re taken to the hospital to be checked and join the lottery to get their card which will define their future. There are two types of future determined by two different colored tickets.BLUE TICKET means they’re free because they’re going to mothers!! They can work and they can contribute to the system.WHITE TICKET means they are not free anymore. They’re gonna be mothers and wives.Well, sorry but this kind of logic didn’t make any sense of me so from the start, my head filled with tons of question marks and as you may imagine I couldn’t find any proper world-building and of course dialogue-less story-telling style and sharp endings of the chapters, lack of curiosity and mystery are the other factors I couldn’t have any connection with the story’s progression. I also didn’t give a damn about the drama of heroine’s whirlwind life story.I think writing about powerful motherhood and having your own free will about your body and reproductive system are popular trends for strengthening the feminism manifesto and emphasizing the place the women deserve in the world by putting spotlight of their crucial problems. But I found this book’s approach to the matter and writing style lack of emotions, dull and flat. So I designated myself a lonely place in the minority by being not big fan of this book.Special thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday Books for sharing this ARC with me in exchange my honest review. I wish I could enjoy it because I was so excited to read this from the beginning but unfortunately it didn’t fulfill my expectations.bloginstagramfacebooktwitter
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  • Ceecee
    January 1, 1970
    3-4 starsThis is Calla’s story, in an unnamed country, place or time. She lives with her father until her first menstruation and then is taken with other girls to The Lottery where she receives a blue ticket which is placed inside a locket. She is also painfully fitted with an IUD coil and dispatched to the city to live a childless life of freedom. White ticket girls go on to be able to produce children. The states will is enforced by Emissaries so there is no way of avoiding your fate. She even 3-4 starsThis is Calla’s story, in an unnamed country, place or time. She lives with her father until her first menstruation and then is taken with other girls to The Lottery where she receives a blue ticket which is placed inside a locket. She is also painfully fitted with an IUD coil and dispatched to the city to live a childless life of freedom. White ticket girls go on to be able to produce children. The states will is enforced by Emissaries so there is no way of avoiding your fate. She eventually works in a lab and very much like a lab rat she has to tell her thoughts to Dr A. However, Calla has other ideas about her destiny and she’s out to make her own choices. This leads to punishment and banishment and a dangerous journey to try to get to the border and freedom. Along the way she meets a few other women in a similar situation. Calla is the storyteller. This is a very strange, possibly even weird book and it’s very unsettling. Calla narrates the story in an unstructured way which I imagine is deliberate as in every other way in this world there is rigid structure. However, that makes it hard to read. Calla is very difficult to understand and she makes it very hard to empathise. She seems robotic, almost dead externally but internally she is something else which is very dark and unfathomable. She appears to have no maternal instincts whatsoever so her desire to have a child either comes from some baser instinct over which she has no control or is an act of rebellion. She is told she can’t have a child so sets about demonstrating that it’s her choice to do so. She’s very disconnected and even with Dr A with whom she has something resembling a relationship she’s playing some sort of game to her own rules. This is a harsh, clinical book of a dystopian world and it’s unrelenting with no soft edges. As you read you have so many questions to which there are no answers - this is the way it is in this place, there is no perceived rationale. Overall, this is probably a Marmite book that some will not like and others who will admire the idea and the way it is written. It’s very hard to find any empathy because Calla doesn’t let you. At its heart it’s about lack of choice and free will as Calla sets out to prove that it is her body and her decision to do with it what she wills. It’s a very different book which has to be a positive.
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  • Emily B
    January 1, 1970
    I was really excited about this book and I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I heard about it. Much like when reading ‘The Water Cure’ I easily found myself immersed in the world that Sophie Mackintosh creates. I love that you never really know where it’s set or what year it is. However, another part of me is dying for more information. Specially regarding the lottery and the blue and white tickets.I’ve read other books regarding the issue of fertility and women’s reproductive rights but found I was really excited about this book and I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I heard about it. Much like when reading ‘The Water Cure’ I easily found myself immersed in the world that Sophie Mackintosh creates. I love that you never really know where it’s set or what year it is. However, another part of me is dying for more information. Specially regarding the lottery and the blue and white tickets.I’ve read other books regarding the issue of fertility and women’s reproductive rights but found this to be better and more interesting than the others I’ve read.
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  • Dannii Elle
    January 1, 1970
    There are two paths a girl can take in life, and both are governed by a lottery. A white ticket will see her with a baby, a husband, and a loving home. A blue ticket will see this future disallowed to her and she will be cast out into the world to make for herself what she can. For the teen girls who receive their lottery ticket the latter feels like freedom, but to some of the women they become it feels more like a nightmare.Calla is one such woman. She spends her days at repetitive work and he There are two paths a girl can take in life, and both are governed by a lottery. A white ticket will see her with a baby, a husband, and a loving home. A blue ticket will see this future disallowed to her and she will be cast out into the world to make for herself what she can. For the teen girls who receive their lottery ticket the latter feels like freedom, but to some of the women they become it feels more like a nightmare.Calla is one such woman. She spends her days at repetitive work and her nights sipping overly sweet wine until the edges of reality blur and fade to black altogether only for a new day to begin and herald a repeat of all those that came before. She is looking for something that can’t be found in strings of men and women, the cigarettes she chain smokes, or the empty bottles that litter her spare apartment. She is looking for the one future the blue ticket held inside her locket forbids her from.I appreciated how this unsettling dystopian tale opened up ideas of femininity and motherhood, and how the two are often wrongly interlinked. The women denied the latter are over-sexualised and sold a shallow way of living that kept meaningful conversation and loving contact at bay. The white ticket women are overly-protected from this but are coddled and cosseted in the domestic sphere, instead. Maybe some are happy with their fate, but most are too brain-washed into thinking no other future is viable, for them to begin to question that.Whilst I adored all this novel set out to do and the startlingly bleak future reality constructed, I found the concept was both the nexus and the entire focus of the novel. This was a largely slow-paced, personal character study of the protagonist, that used one individual’s plight to speak volumes for the untold number of women just like her. It was quite like the renowned The Handmaid’s Tale in that respect. Whilst I understand why the focus was so introspective and individualised I also longed for something else. Only I’m not exactly sure what it was that was missing for me, personally. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, Sophie Mackintosh, and the publisher, Penguin, for this opportunity.
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  • Roman Clodia
    January 1, 1970
    The thing is, bookshops are over-packed with 'feminist dystopias' obsessing about babies and motherhood. Yes, reproductive rights remain a contested issue but Atwood nailed the topic and this feels like one of many, many also rans. I loved the twisted fairy tale aura of The Water Cure but this feels unoriginal in comparison. It's hard to buy into the simplistic premise that has minimal world-building to convince and the writing is merely workmanlike. Overall, this lacks conviction and energy: di The thing is, bookshops are over-packed with 'feminist dystopias' obsessing about babies and motherhood. Yes, reproductive rights remain a contested issue but Atwood nailed the topic and this feels like one of many, many also rans. I loved the twisted fairy tale aura of The Water Cure but this feels unoriginal in comparison. It's hard to buy into the simplistic premise that has minimal world-building to convince and the writing is merely workmanlike. Overall, this lacks conviction and energy: disappointingly flabby with little tension or drive.ARC from NetGalley
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  • Gumble's Yard
    January 1, 1970
    That’s how your life becomes a set thing, written and unchangeable. It was an object that did not really belong to me, and to wish for any other was a fallacy at best, treasonous at worst. Blue ticket: Don’t underestimate the relief of a decision being taken away from you. Blue ticket: I was not motherly. It had been judged that it wasn’t for me by someone who knew better than I did.Blue ticket: There was lack in my brain, my body, my soul, or some thing. There was a flaw I should not pass on That’s how your life becomes a set thing, written and unchangeable. It was an object that did not really belong to me, and to wish for any other was a fallacy at best, treasonous at worst. Blue ticket: Don’t underestimate the relief of a decision being taken away from you. Blue ticket: I was not motherly. It had been judged that it wasn’t for me by someone who knew better than I did.Blue ticket: There was lack in my brain, my body, my soul, or some thing. There was a flaw I should not pass on. A warmth I was missing. Blue ticket: My life was precious enough as it was. I wasn’t to be risked. Blue ticket: Some called it a noble sacrifice, others a mercy. It meant a different thing every time I thought about it. Years were frenetic, then calmer. They ticked with the inevitability of a metronome, some fallow and some interesting. Things could happen to a blue ticket woman the way they might not for a white ticket. Spirit of adventure. In practice, life felt smaller than that expansiveness promised. The author’s debut novel “Water Cure” was longlisted for the 2018 Booker Prize. The book received mixed reviews from those who follow the prize – a lot of it in my view based around the book not matching reader’s expectations due to its marketing as a feminist dystopia as well as many readers preconceptions/biases of what a feminist dystopia should portray.From my review of that book “like many dystopias takes an element of the observed world and extrapolates in an imagined but imaginable way. In this case, the book proceeds from toxic masculinity and takes it to a literary as well as literal conclusion ………….. unlike many other dystopias which explore .. their central idea and its implications - here [the central] idea … represents more of a starting point for a book which is light on exposition and heavy on ambiguity."I also compared the book to “The Red Clocks” by Leni Zumas a book which as I said in my review of that book was “more about relationships between women explored within a patriarchal/misogynistic world rather than just exploring the structure of that patriarchy”. I suspect, and can see from early reviews, that similar issues may emerge with this book – the blurb from Margaret Atwood (a year after “The Testaments” was published) along with the basic set up which gives the book its title will (and already has) given rise to certain unmet expectations.The book is told in the first person by Calla – and we start with her around 14, awaiting her first period, a seminal (in more than one sense) moment in any girls life: when this happens they are taken by their parents (in Calla’s case, her widowed father) to a lottery station, where they draw a single ticket issued from a machine (a ticket they believe may be ordained based on your observed character and behaviour until then): a white ticket and they are given the opportunity (and expectation) to have children; a blue ticket and they are given what is seen as freedom from the burden of motherhood: fitted with an IUD, issued with a locket with a blue piece of paper inside, and sent out to make their own way to a City, away from their own family, with only a basic set of supplies. We then join Call briefly on her years in the City (we later find hints about the dangers faced on the trip to the City – where it seems new Blue Ticket women are open season for assault; how when they arrive they are subject to a battery of tests and told which kind of jobs they are suitable for). Calla (we realise from the occasional scenes of clarity which appear in her poetically oblique narrative style which characterises this novel) lives a life which is partly constrained and subdued but sometimes with elements of her earlier deliberately provocative/self harmful behaviour “I no longer asked men the age of my father to hit me in the face of stayed up for three days at a time … [but] Sometimes I would still go out looking for trouble”The book then is told over a twelve month period, 18 years after her lottery, beginning with one of the regular compulsory sessions she has with her Doctor (part physician, part psychologist, part and explainer of societal norms as they apply to blue ticket women, norms enforced by uniformed emissaries).Calla increasingly is obsessed with obtaining the very thing forbidden to her, not so much because she desires it (her practical knowledge as a blue ticket woman of pregnancy, birth, motherhood seems close to non-existent) but partly because of what she increasingly feels as the hunger and grief of her body for something natural denied to it, and partly (particularly as her Doctor sees it) because of believing an alternative to her current life will deal with her psychological issues. The narrative then proceeds from her decision to remove her IUD, and get pregnant. When this happens, Doctor A explains that she will be visited at some stage by emissaries, given a survival kit and in a fairly deliberate echo of the first day of a Blue Ticket woman, given a small head start (the length of head start depending on her behaviour up until that point) and then hunted down (with her fate once captured not entirely clear).This only represents the first quarter or so of the book – the remaining 75% or so is Calla’s post-conception journey. The author’s own Twitter feed @fairfairisles serves as an excellent summary of what the book becomes “It's kind of a road trip novel, it's kind of a pregnancy novel, it's full of old hotels, strange doctors, uncanny landscapes and longing” And the road trip itself introduces the other key character – another pregnant fugitive Marisol, one with a clearer idea of the end-aim of the road trip and one whose interactions with Calla give the book its narrative drive, its poignancy and tenderness, its revelations, its coherence of plot and its resolution. What we do not get, and what I think will frustrate many readers, especially those nor familiar with the author’s style, is a coherent, Margaret Atwood style, exploration of the dystopia. It would be easy to list the many seeming inconsistencies or omissions in the set up of the world that is described. On one level that would be unfair and based on a misunderstanding of how the book should be read. But I think the book may also disappoint some of the author’s fans. In contrast to “The Water Cure” where the inconsistency of the world view was one of the book’s strengths as it lead to the ambiguity (to the reader throughout and to the three girls at the end) of the extent to which the regime imposed on them was actually justified – here the inconsistencies seem to me to serve no purpose: at best they can be ignored and at worst they undermine the story.I think part of this reason is that “The Water Cure” worked in its isolated island set up – where an artificial set up could be maintained. And this set up also gave rise to other elements which made the book strong: the dark fairy tale echoes, the Shakespearean elements, the tight interactions between the three sisters, the heavy imagery of water and salt, the earth/water/sky aspects, the environmental concepts. All of those are partly echoed here but to me work less well in their societal and road trip setting. Where the book does succeed is in retaining the author’s distinct writing style – a kind of fragmentary and elliptical way of creating impression. A style which I enjoy and which would lead me to read her next book My thanks to Hamish Hamilton for an ARC via NetGalley. Pain scrunched me up, tiny and ineffectual. Then it opened me up at the ribs, the pelvis, like I was being disarticulated on a butcher’s block. Then it was a horse bolting away from me. It was impossible to get a grip on it. Soft body learning to be hard on the country roads. Gravel; wet, steaming air in my nostrils. Body of tarmac and hotel rooms and swimming pools and bathrooms and clinics, body of ripped up cuti cles and appetite and sex with people loved and not loved, a body forgiving every bad thing I could do to it. A body always going somewhere. Carrying me onwards. Never letting me down, yet.
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  • Ellen Gail
    January 1, 1970
    Incredibly strange and hypnotically beautiful, Blue Ticket was nothing like I expected and I'm not mad about it.While reading the first few pages of Blue Ticket, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. The writing style was deeply reserved and flighty. I honestly thought I would hate it. On any different day I might have. But something about it just clicked for me. It eschews structure in favor of ephemeral glimpses of thought and feeling. It's a novel that really doesn't give a fuck about being Incredibly strange and hypnotically beautiful, Blue Ticket was nothing like I expected and I'm not mad about it.While reading the first few pages of Blue Ticket, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. The writing style was deeply reserved and flighty. I honestly thought I would hate it. On any different day I might have. But something about it just clicked for me. It eschews structure in favor of ephemeral glimpses of thought and feeling. It's a novel that really doesn't give a fuck about being easily readable. It considers questions of free will, choice, and destiny but wraps them in a murky shadow of a narrator trapped by both desire and destiny, who so desperately wants to know what she truly wants.What I'm getting at is, this book is weird as hell. In a way, this reminds me of Bunny - it has the same trippy, mesmerizing quality to it. It's as much an experience as it is a book.Blue Ticket could have been a paint by numbers feminist dystopia. Instead it is something altogether weirder and more striking. You may love it or hate it, but I'll never forget it.Thanks to Edelweiss and Doubleday Books for the review copy!
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  • Nenia ⚔️ Queen of Villainy ⚔️ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    Sounds like a cross between Handmaid's Tale and The Giver
  • Storme Reads A Lot
    January 1, 1970
    Why does everything I read by Sophie Mackintosh scare the living daylights out of me? Someone please tell me the answer because I am nervous every single time one of her books lands in my hands. She just has a way with the scary feminist nightmares found in Margaret Atwood books, I think Mackintosh will be right at home amongst all the other dystopian authors of the genre.I stayed up super late because I could not tear my tired eyes away from this novel.Mackintosh weaves together dystopia worlds Why does everything I read by Sophie Mackintosh scare the living daylights out of me? Someone please tell me the answer because I am nervous every single time one of her books lands in my hands. She just has a way with the scary feminist nightmares found in Margaret Atwood books, I think Mackintosh will be right at home amongst all the other dystopian authors of the genre.I stayed up super late because I could not tear my tired eyes away from this novel.Mackintosh weaves together dystopia worlds and gives you the stuff of nightmares. Take Atwood mixed with some more scary stuff going on, and that is Blue Ticket. This is like one of those books you can see happening soon. You could laugh it as no way, that would never happen. Then you read this, and you know it could easily happen beneath the government we are currently living under. This could happen soon, and it is just so horrible to even fathom. This book is if women could not choose what they wanted to do with their lives. Either you have a career and freedom, or you have to be a breeding cow. Those are what you are given, and you get a ticket which tells you what the rest of your life is going to be like. You get either a career or babies. The government fully controls what is going to happen to your life with no regards for the fact you are a person with your own thoughts and feelings. This book is dark. I thought there would be some kind of redemption, but it just a bleak reality of what the future could become if America stays on its current path. It was just like this train crash you could not look away from. You wanted to stop, but I needed to know it was going to be better. It was not better. It was scary and sad. But still, I read it.Five stars to this dark sad tale. Thank you DoubleDay and NetGalley for the ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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  • Alexandra Scarpello
    January 1, 1970
    This is...not fun to read. I DNF'd about halfway through and couldn't force myself to continue. Imagine picking up a diary written by someone from what I would call a mild dystopia. That's it. That's the book. When you are a teenager, you are given a ticket that will determine whether you are childless or will bare children. The set up to the book and the reason for the dystopia is purposefully vague for what I assume is dramatic affect, but mostly comes off as frustrating. There is almost no di This is...not fun to read. I DNF'd about halfway through and couldn't force myself to continue. Imagine picking up a diary written by someone from what I would call a mild dystopia. That's it. That's the book. When you are a teenager, you are given a ticket that will determine whether you are childless or will bare children. The set up to the book and the reason for the dystopia is purposefully vague for what I assume is dramatic affect, but mostly comes off as frustrating. There is almost no dialogue. Most of this story is a woman walking us through her life with minimal details. The book hops time regularly within chapters (which will sometimes be multiple pages of monologues describing the way the character feels about an everyday situation)Reasons you would enjoy Blue Ticket- You don't like characters or characters talking- You are interested in hearing a single character tell you she's sad, but like, for the whole book- You are bored by things like "world building" or "character interactions". I just found this ton be a frustrating execution of a concept that I was thrilled to read. If you like poetry or "artsy" books that are extremely limited in character interaction, maybe this will work for you. I don't usually DNF this quickly without a reason, and my reason was I was bored to tears and about as compelled by the characters and universe as I am to go to work every day. It was tedious and somehow, for a dark feminist dystopia, boring. Like listening to your un happy friend repeat her two problems to you for 4 hours straight.You can read a million good dystopias out there, so why waste your time with this?
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  • Jessie Sedai of the Black Ajah🥀🐍
    January 1, 1970
    This book is seriously disturbing.This book is feminism nightmare fuel.I finished this book at 4 in the morning because I needed it to be over and there was no possible way of DNFing it because I just needed it to be cleansed from my headspace, out of my soul. The only way out was through.If "The Road" and "Handmaid's Tale" got together and had a baby, this is what it looks like. Both stories, in comparison, feel a million times more uplifting then this dark, twisted, traumatizing brood.You know This book is seriously disturbing.This book is feminism nightmare fuel.I finished this book at 4 in the morning because I needed it to be over and there was no possible way of DNFing it because I just needed it to be cleansed from my headspace, out of my soul. The only way out was through.If "The Road" and "Handmaid's Tale" got together and had a baby, this is what it looks like. Both stories, in comparison, feel a million times more uplifting then this dark, twisted, traumatizing brood.You know how people always have that one episode of Black Mirror that hits just too close to home? It's not even entertaining, it just twists you up inside. This was one of those episodes for me. A dystopian hellscape that's not farfetched enough - it has the potential to be seen in our lifetimes. What if women didn't have a choice between a career and a family? What if that choice was made when you were a child? If the government had autonomy over a woman's body completely, telling them who can and cannot get pregnant? What if a woman decided she wanted more for herself and rebelled, sending her out on the lam with little understanding of what was about to happen to her?I was desperate for a glint of humanity in this dark void, pit of despair story. Something to give me hope that if this tyrannical form of existence came to fruition, there was a shred of decency that would somehow live on. Alas, there was very little. Reading this felt like watching a puppy get kicked. Just really upsetting, lingering bad feelings. If I had a physical copy of this book I would bury it in my yard and dance on its grave. Then I would go inside and drink a cup of tea, hands shaking, telling myself it's going to be ok, it can't hurt you anymore.Somebody get me a rom-com, a DIY for knitters, a book about a unicorn, a calendar of sexy firemen playing with kittens. A beer. Something to cleanse my palette and get this soul-sucking, paranoia inducing shitshow out of my system. Obviously, 5 stars. Because not everyday a book rocks you to your core enough to make you want to seek revenge on an inanimate object. Thank you to netgalley for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Carlene Inspired
    January 1, 1970
    Find more reviews at Carlene Inspired.Calla goes against everything the blue ticket defines her life to be, but she doesn't do it in the way one might expect. She isn't motherly, she has no natural instinct to care about a child, let alone herself. She's unreliable, a drinker, selfish, and at times I questioned her mental stability. She is determined though and with determination comes an interesting, albeit difficult to picture, journey to try to chase the life she wants to create for herself a Find more reviews at Carlene Inspired.Calla goes against everything the blue ticket defines her life to be, but she doesn't do it in the way one might expect. She isn't motherly, she has no natural instinct to care about a child, let alone herself. She's unreliable, a drinker, selfish, and at times I questioned her mental stability. She is determined though and with determination comes an interesting, albeit difficult to picture, journey to try to chase the life she wants to create for herself and her unborn child. I wasn't in love with this book, the writing style, page breaks, and lack of dialogue really were hard to get used to, but something about it was riveting. You never really get to know Calla, there's no true description of where the events take place, even the secondary characters feel too far out of reach to picture, and yet I couldn't stop reading. It was strange, unique, and at times quite terrible, but to say Blue Ticket was a bad book just isn't true. It wasn't entirely for me, but I can absolutely see the draw for others.The book has some GREAT lines though, so highlight-able:"My want had been cracked open. Now I'd have to look inside and see.""Let it into you, I thought there, in the moments before she pulled me up and kissed me on the mouth for the first time. Let it into you."ARC provided.
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  • Girish
    January 1, 1970
    "In a world where women can't have it all, don't underestimate the relief of a decision being taken away from you" Sophie Mackintosh's feminist dystopian tale has a setting that is sorting hat in Gilead. Every woman enters a lottery on her first period where she is assigned either a blue or white ticket. White ticket means you get a family and blue ticket means you get your complete freedom but you can't have a child. Calla, a blue ticket rebel, reaches the age of 30 and she gets the 'dark feel "In a world where women can't have it all, don't underestimate the relief of a decision being taken away from you" Sophie Mackintosh's feminist dystopian tale has a setting that is sorting hat in Gilead. Every woman enters a lottery on her first period where she is assigned either a blue or white ticket. White ticket means you get a family and blue ticket means you get your complete freedom but you can't have a child. Calla, a blue ticket rebel, reaches the age of 30 and she gets the 'dark feeling' to have a child. So she breaks the one rule knowing the consequences and the book traces the consequences of the choice. She is on the run, pregnant and in fear, as she battles off the emissaries and the common wolves after her. She realises she is not alone and hence questions the system.She is joined by other desperate women on the run including a rebel white ticket who doesn't want a baby. All the while she is battling questions of what it means to be a mother and how the lottery can predict if you are worthy. When she gets drunk or smokes while on the run, she tends to doubt if the lottery was right after all. It is not a fight against the system, but against their own choices and decisions. And how the maternal instincts for protecting the baby helps them survive. The writing is raw and hard hitting. So much so that while reading some parts, I had to pause since I started feeling uncomfortable (and chose to read about the horrors of the concentration camp instead). The evocative prose is bold and undiluted. Pregnancy, cravings, child birth - in it's entire raw form. And it is a thriller.The book is not without flaws, but I think this will win a few accolades along the way.Note: Thanks to Penguin books UK and Netgalley for providing the ARC of this book for review. The book releases on 27 Aug.
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  • Serena
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 I loved the idea but it took me a little bit to get used to the short(?) style of writing. It was also a really quick read which was nice! I enjoyed it overall.
  • Katie Khan
    January 1, 1970
    As a huge fan of Sophie Mackintosh’s The Water Cure, a book that stayed with me so much I read it twice just to get it out of my brain (in the best way!), I was delighted to read Mackintosh’s sophomore novel.Set in a world where young girls, upon reaching puberty, take part in a lottery to decide their future, Blue Ticket is part literary novel, part speculative dystopia, part survival story. A white ticket means the girls will become mothers; a blue ticket means they cannot have children, so mu As a huge fan of Sophie Mackintosh’s The Water Cure, a book that stayed with me so much I read it twice just to get it out of my brain (in the best way!), I was delighted to read Mackintosh’s sophomore novel.Set in a world where young girls, upon reaching puberty, take part in a lottery to decide their future, Blue Ticket is part literary novel, part speculative dystopia, part survival story. A white ticket means the girls will become mothers; a blue ticket means they cannot have children, so must fulfil their “destiny” in other ways.Arguably, Mackintosh’s stories work best as literary novels, rather than as dystopia. The worlds, though curious, interesting and often frightening, are more thinly-drawn than their genre counterparts. We don’t know why the lottery has been implemented. We don’t see many other women on many other courses or making other life choices. We’ll never know why so many blue-ticket women are treated as “sluts” rather than, say, excelling as female politicians and world leaders, unencumbered by family life. Or take, for example, the fascinating rite of young girls in Blue Ticket, who, after drawing their lottery ticket, must run to a city — any city — in an ordeal as harrowing as the thrust of the plot in dystopian YA novel The Grace Year, but which is only touched upon in tiny flashback mentions here.Saying that, as a literary novelist Mackintosh creates atmosphere by the bucketload. For me, Mackintosh’s worlds feel somehow fleeting, temporal, elegiac. An ethereal wash of speculative fiction. The prose is beyond beautiful. As a reader, if you switch all the questions off in your mind and just ‘go with it’, there’s no doubt this novel takes you on a helluva ride. It hits its stride as the main character, Calla, heads out on the run from the authorities, pregnant and alone. Her complicated, contrary personality makes her survival intriguing — so nice to read a story where the main character is not a “Mary Sue” genius/hero/survival expert!The intense maternal yearning of the narrative I can, personally, take or leave, and in that way it reminded me of last year’s The Farm - another speculative dystopia about motherhood. But I liked that Calla didn’t really know why she wanted a child; she just wanted the choice.I gulped this book down in one night, reading under the covers until long after midnight, so it’s clear to me that I’ll read anything Sophie Mackintosh writes. Ultimately, I loved it. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the early copy. 
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  • Peggy Jaeger
    January 1, 1970
    This was without doubt the weirdest book I've ever read. Not only because of the subject matter, but because of the book's composition.There was no dialogue, just the narrator saying things like she said, he said. There was no paragraph structure or time line. It was almost like a free expressive thematic writing.I'm sure some people will say this is just one more book about female disenfranchisement in a futuristic dystopian society. Some may even hail it at the next Atwood-like tale.I just sim This was without doubt the weirdest book I've ever read. Not only because of the subject matter, but because of the book's composition.There was no dialogue, just the narrator saying things like she said, he said. There was no paragraph structure or time line. It was almost like a free expressive thematic writing.I'm sure some people will say this is just one more book about female disenfranchisement in a futuristic dystopian society. Some may even hail it at the next Atwood-like tale.I just simply found it hard and very boring to read the way it was constructed from a grammar and presentation perspective.Told from the narrator's perspective, Calla, the reader follows her journey from when she begin to menstruate and is taken to a place where she is given either a blue ticket or white one that will determine her future. SHe got a blue ticket so she is immediately taken to a doctor where an IUD is placed within her. I'm guessing she is roughly 13-14 years old. Then, right after, she is set free on her own, to go wherever she wants. She never sees her family again. Since she has been deemed non-motherly, she can have all the sex she wants and behave whatever way she wants.And the men she encounters call her things like slut and whore and yet still have sex with her. What in the world was this author thinking? In the day of #MeToo to have a female writer display women this way - no matter that she is world building, is just....wrong.From the blurb I thought this book was really going to be about choice and the ability to change your mind. Unfortunately, is was more about self loathing and nothing like female empowerment.But that's just my take and I am sure others will disagree heartily.Thanks to Netgalley for a sneak peek at the book in exchange for an honest opinion.
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  • Katherine
    January 1, 1970
    Spring finally feels like it's here and I'm planning my garden (zone 4 gang rise up!), so I kept visualizing chili peppers while reading this. The kind that deeply burn your mouth but keep you coming back for more. This book wrecked me - but I had to keep going. Calla's fate is decided by lottery once she hits puberty. If she chooses a blue ticket, she is "free" from having children and is forced to receive a copper implant. If she chooses a white ticket she is allowed to have children eventuall Spring finally feels like it's here and I'm planning my garden (zone 4 gang rise up!), so I kept visualizing chili peppers while reading this. The kind that deeply burn your mouth but keep you coming back for more. This book wrecked me - but I had to keep going. Calla's fate is decided by lottery once she hits puberty. If she chooses a blue ticket, she is "free" from having children and is forced to receive a copper implant. If she chooses a white ticket she is allowed to have children eventually. Calla is initially happy with her blue ticket. Within the hour of receiving it, she is released with a few supplies to make her way alone to the nearest city. As an adult, Calla enjoys her lifestyle, but she begins to feel something new. She decides to remove her implant and try to get pregnant. Once she is discovered to be pregnant, she is again released into the wild - but this time with the hope of crossing the border where she can safely keep her child.Mackintosh is strategic in what she shares with us. Details are revealed sparingly and without humor. It's a dark and uncaring landscape. The gaps I filled in were equally cheerless, but carried a pathos that can be applied to our own contemporary failures. Calla has little choice, but also little understanding of what physically awaits her, for she was never taught. What she lacks in knowledge, she has in sheer determination and anger. It's a haunting journey, one that culminates in an equally haunting ending. One that I won't soon forget. It's a provoking rumination that had my heart racing with every chapter. I received my copy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley and Doubleday!
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  • Esther King
    January 1, 1970
    I think that the comparison this book has to 'The Handmaid's Tale' is a thoroughly valid one in this case, and so it carries both the benefits and drawbacks of the book as well. There are a lot of social commentaries to be found here, all of it very poignant and valid, but it was still vague and frustrating, and it left me wishing that there would have been a little more detail in the society that was illustrated. I found it hard to connect to the characters with so little surrounding them, and I think that the comparison this book has to 'The Handmaid's Tale' is a thoroughly valid one in this case, and so it carries both the benefits and drawbacks of the book as well. There are a lot of social commentaries to be found here, all of it very poignant and valid, but it was still vague and frustrating, and it left me wishing that there would have been a little more detail in the society that was illustrated. I found it hard to connect to the characters with so little surrounding them, and it bothered me that there was that vague, impassive connection to the story as well- as a reader, it felt like looking through a foggy window at something I couldn't quite see. With that said, I loved the setting and the story throughout. It develops a world that is largely credible and brings with it the debate surrounding reproductive rights, women's bodily autonomy, and the medicalisation of female bodies as well. There's a lot of good material here, it's just a matter of hashing it out a bit more and making it a little less vague. The characters could do with a little more developing too, but as with 'The Water Cure', the language is beautiful and poignant and carries with it a sense of menace. This was a good book with the potential to be a great book- it's just a shame that it didn't quite get there.
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  • Vikki Patis
    January 1, 1970
    Reading one of Mackintosh's books is like falling into a deep, dream-filled sleep. It is like floating on a calm tide, waiting for the next wave. It is a mirror held up to the inside of our minds, the shadows we do not want to see. Her prose is poetic and hypnotising, her characters beautiful and flawed and raw. Blue Ticket is the perfect mixture of literary and dystopian, fiercely feminist fiction. Mackintosh is a true descendant of Margaret Atwood.
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  • Sacha
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I'll post that review upon publication.
  • Sandra
    January 1, 1970
    This book is bemusing, to say the least. It has such an interesting premise but I felt let down by the actual story. We're told pretty much from the beginning that the assigning of tickets is from a lottery, so I'm not sure why after the lottery happens we're subjected to 95% of Calla's ramblings and how she was *meant* to be a mother and how 'x thought' or 'y thought' meant she was good enough or not. It's a damn lottery and it wasn't based on any factor of being a human being? It's also boring This book is bemusing, to say the least. It has such an interesting premise but I felt let down by the actual story. We're told pretty much from the beginning that the assigning of tickets is from a lottery, so I'm not sure why after the lottery happens we're subjected to 95% of Calla's ramblings and how she was *meant* to be a mother and how 'x thought' or 'y thought' meant she was good enough or not. It's a damn lottery and it wasn't based on any factor of being a human being? It's also boring that the person who doesn't get chosen to be a mother wants to be a mother. Like yes, of course, there's room for loads of exploration in that but it's straight forward and boring, particularly because Calla was boring. Your typical 'I don't care about anything' attitude, only to find *surprise* she does care and she does want a baby. The book also lacked a lot of world-building, you don't know anything about the state of the world in this book, why are the women assigned tickets? Why do those assigned blue tickets have to then go out in the world and "make it on their own?" they are like 14! The world they live in is the same as ours but we never find out what is happening and what society is like in general. The writing by large promotes a very disjointed feel, and this is okay in some cases but I didn't like the story so I felt even further detached from it. Calla reads like a thirteen-year-old girl who is trying to be dark and mysterious and if you're just not after that it's really hard to connect with her or the book.The book wants to talk about motherhood and choice but I think it's very poorly executed. This book is also very largely an on the road trip which was weird and wild, I think it very much wanted to bring out the wilderness and basic human/savage aspect but it's a bit trite now and it goes on for a bit too long. That along with other women who joined their merry band was just overkill. I was close to DNFing this but carried on with it as the writing was easy to get through. About 75% I found a bit more enjoyment in the book as I think it found a good balance between Calla's thoughts and thoughts on motherhood. However, in the end, it was the books attempt to be brusque so often that made this unenjoyable for me.
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  • LittleSophie
    January 1, 1970
    After really enjoying her debut novel I was mildly disappointed by Mackintosh's second one. Thematically she sticks with the genre of feminist dystopias but while The Water Cure ended on a satisfying twist and had compelling and new things to say about its subject matter, I didn't find this to be the case fot Blue Ticket. The execution seemed a bit formulaic and predictable, giving us just enough different characters to really hammer in the point about how every woman is allowed a different view After really enjoying her debut novel I was mildly disappointed by Mackintosh's second one. Thematically she sticks with the genre of feminist dystopias but while The Water Cure ended on a satisfying twist and had compelling and new things to say about its subject matter, I didn't find this to be the case fot Blue Ticket. The execution seemed a bit formulaic and predictable, giving us just enough different characters to really hammer in the point about how every woman is allowed a different view point about motherhood. Moreover, the novel's dystopian society lacked context and explanation, making it feel completely arbitrary and thus giving it even more the appearance of a well executed exercise along the lines of:Should women be allowed to choose or decline motherhood? Discuss.I shouldn't be too hard, Sophie Mackintosh has an excellent writing style and I would still be interested to read any future novels. This one, however, very much felt like a step backwards from her wonderful debut for me.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    Following her Booker-prize nominated The Water Cure which received mixed reviews from the blogging community, Sophie Mackintosh is back this year with her latest offering, Blue Ticket. I have a feeling this one is going to split readers further, and I'm not sure where I stand. The Water Cure, while strange, I found hypnotic and compelling reading. Something in it resonated with me, but this one didn't have the same impact.Mackintosh's dreamlike prose and complex feminist concepts are back in ful Following her Booker-prize nominated The Water Cure which received mixed reviews from the blogging community, Sophie Mackintosh is back this year with her latest offering, Blue Ticket. I have a feeling this one is going to split readers further, and I'm not sure where I stand. The Water Cure, while strange, I found hypnotic and compelling reading. Something in it resonated with me, but this one didn't have the same impact.Mackintosh's dreamlike prose and complex feminist concepts are back in full force with this latest release. While The Water Cure looked more at men and women's relationships in general, this one is more about one woman's relationship with her own body and with motherhood. In Blue Ticket, every woman is subject to a 'lottery' when she gets her 'first bleed'. This will determine whether she is a White Ticket - deemed worthy of motherhood, a family and all that comes with it - or Blue Ticket - destined for a child-free life of freedom.Our protagonist, Calla, received a Blue Ticket in her teens, and so her future is decided. She is told to embrace the freedom and independence her ticket offers, finds herself a successful job and builds a life divided between work, wild parties and flings with no strings attached. But things can never be that black and white, and as Calla grows older she wants more. So she breaks the rules.I have mixed feelings about this book. For a start, it's bizarre, it's quite graphic - there's really no holds barred and Mackintosh invites us into the inner workings of Calla's mind and body. I guess everyone will relate to it differently, and I think being a childless 30-year-old meant I struggled to understand Calla's overwhelming urge. And yet some part of me can - because I think the heart of this story comes down to control; to being forced what to do with your own body from an early age."When I thought about burning my life to the ground, which I was thinking about increasingly often, I wondered whether there were white-ticket women who wanted to burn theirs to the ground too. To be alone and unbeholden to all, and to find the glory in it."The lottery and all that followed was a fascinating concept but unfortunately wasn't explored enough - there's a lack of world-building on this stellar concept and only snatches of how the world operates once the rules are broken. What Mackintosh does brilliantly is create a feeling - both Calla's urges to break from the status quo and that stifling feeling of isolation and lack of control as she goes on the run from the authorities. It's an atmospheric, hypnotic read from the author and, while I didn't love it, I'll still be looking out to see what she does next.
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  • Hanna Yost
    January 1, 1970
    This is no The Water Cure, which was an easy 5 and up stars from me.This didn't have the same enchanting writing, or story, but was disturbing in a provoking way, which I appreciate.
  • Charline
    January 1, 1970
    My favourite book of 2018 was Sophie Mackintosh's The Water Cure. It is still a book that stays with me now. So when I received a chance to read an arc of her new novel I was so excited and jumped at the chance. I dropped my planned tbr and started it straight away.It sticks with the themes of female dystopia which was explored so well in The Water Cure.The day a girl gets her first period she is taken to the station to partake in a lottery which will determine her future. If you receive a blue My favourite book of 2018 was Sophie Mackintosh's The Water Cure. It is still a book that stays with me now. So when I received a chance to read an arc of her new novel I was so excited and jumped at the chance. I dropped my planned tbr and started it straight away.It sticks with the themes of female dystopia which was explored so well in The Water Cure.The day a girl gets her first period she is taken to the station to partake in a lottery which will determine her future. If you receive a blue ticket you are free and not permitted to have children. If you receive a white ticket you are set for a life of child bearing. These tickets are worn at all times in a locket around the neck. You are then sent out into the country to make your own way and never see your family again. When Calla was a teenager she received a blue ticket. But as she grows older she wants a baby, wants to know what it feels like. She becomes pregnant and her whole life is turned upside down. She is banished. White ticket women won't accept her and blue ticket women feel betrayed by her. But she realises there are women out there like her, if you look hard enough. And they join forces to try and make it to the border where they will be able to live with their children. I didn't get the character of Calla. I don't really know why she wanted the child as she wasn't a maternal, loving person and did so many self destructive things while she was pregnant. This was an uncomfortable read but it did get better when Calla becomes part of a secret community of pregnant blue ticket women. But even then it was still a deeply dark novel with no light at the end of the tunnel.
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  • Rose Night
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Netgalley, Sophie Mackintosh, and Penguin Random House Canada for the ARC.I always want to start with something nice about any book I have agreed to review. Some of the prose in this book was interesting. The author is not without talent.However, I usually try to read more then 10% of a book before I review it, but I couldn't bring myself to do it this time. This month, while everyone in the world is confused or scared about Covid 19, is not a good month to be releasing something so dr Thank you Netgalley, Sophie Mackintosh, and Penguin Random House Canada for the ARC.I always want to start with something nice about any book I have agreed to review. Some of the prose in this book was interesting. The author is not without talent.However, I usually try to read more then 10% of a book before I review it, but I couldn't bring myself to do it this time. This month, while everyone in the world is confused or scared about Covid 19, is not a good month to be releasing something so dreary. I realize, however, that release dates for books are set ahead of time, and this could not be avoided.It may be that this type of story is too nihilistic for my taste anymore. From what I could gather, this book is for people who enjoy a sparse prose, and who have been used and abused and haven't yet healed. This might help people to not feel so alone, though on the other hand it is very dark and might encourage wallowing. According to some of the other reviews, no light is ever injected into the story.If you are looking for an empowering feminine read, I suggest Jodine Turner's books and The Guinevere's Tale Trilogy.
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  • Miss R
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to Penguin Books (UK) and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.The 'Blue Ticket' has much to recommend it to a reader looking for something a little different. Sophie Mackintosh's dystopian novel, set in the near-future, constitutes a profound meditation on women's reproductive rights. Indeed, you may want to scrap that last bit, because in this novel the individual and collective female body is the sole property of the body politic. This includes a woman's capacity to ch Thanks to Penguin Books (UK) and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.The 'Blue Ticket' has much to recommend it to a reader looking for something a little different. Sophie Mackintosh's dystopian novel, set in the near-future, constitutes a profound meditation on women's reproductive rights. Indeed, you may want to scrap that last bit, because in this novel the individual and collective female body is the sole property of the body politic. This includes a woman's capacity to choose whether she has children. In this chilling vision of regressive femininity, the State determines who will become mothers. through a lottery held on the same day as a young girl begins to menstruate. A blue ticket denotes a life free of motherhood, the opposite is true if a white ticket is drawn. It should be somewhat taken for granted that the erosion of boundaries which constitutes the separation of State from the individual's capacity to free-will, in this case the right to reproduce, raises some profound questions about the so-called 'naturalness' of motherhood as a biological imperative and the rights of governments to reconfigure motherhood as something that is profoundly impersonal - subsumed to needs of government and country. This is all rather topical, given ongoing debates about abortion in Western countries - that continuous, contested battleground that endlessly sees individual rights pitched against secular and religious ideologies, vying for control of the fraught battleground of female reproductive rights. We debate endlessly whether the notion of motherhood as universally natural is a social construction that excuses women's participation in the public sphere and broader enfranchisement, or something that is 'naturally' inbuilt in the female DNA. Both arguments seem to co-exist, somewhat contradictorily, in contemporary debates about the propagation of the species - even in what many view as a post-feminist world. Sophie Mackintosh draws on many of these themes in her own exploration of the boundaries between the public and private sphere - if such a thing can be said to really exist. Choice is the word du jour of her engrossing, dark vision of female agency in an authoritarian regime. I enjoyed it immensely as a verbal 'shot-in-the-arm' to young women everywhere who seem to view feminism as somewhat anachronistic in the 21st century. The war has been won, they'll say, women and men are now equal in a substantive and discursive sense, they'll say. Well maybe not. This is the strength of 'Blue Ticket' - it makes you think about how we have really come in the battle for female liberation. Yet, the ideological thrust of Sophie Mackintosh's novel seems to be missing. This is perhaps due to it being a rather short book. It does, however, lack the context of a world-view that would elevate this novel from a great read to a truly exceptional one. The questions: why does the State feel the need to limit motherhood to a randomly chosen few? Is this ideological or the response to demographic change? These questions feed in to the representations of a particular configuration of masculinity and femininity as conveyed in the book. For example: Is Mackintosh making a broader point about feminism? Is this an anti-feminist diatribe against women who let their reproductive window wither and die. or, a broader statement about how individual rights can be deferred to the perceived needs of the State? Specifically, this relates to the ongoing relevance of feminism in what is perceived as a post-feminist world.
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  • Mandy McHugh
    January 1, 1970
    5 HUGE STARS. The Water Cure is a highly underrated work, in my humble opinion. I rarely hear people discussing its merits, but it's hard to accomplish the stomach-turning unease and visceral response that Mackintosh was able to do. When I saw Blue Ticket was available, I immediately requested and moved it to the top of my TBR. In a society where women of age take place in a lottery to determine their futures, Calla feels like there may have been some mistake. She is a blue ticket, a woman of th 5 HUGE STARS. The Water Cure is a highly underrated work, in my humble opinion. I rarely hear people discussing its merits, but it's hard to accomplish the stomach-turning unease and visceral response that Mackintosh was able to do. When I saw Blue Ticket was available, I immediately requested and moved it to the top of my TBR. In a society where women of age take place in a lottery to determine their futures, Calla feels like there may have been some mistake. She is a blue ticket, a woman of the work force and night life, chosen to be among the ranks of white ticket women, those who don't bear children. She's fine with this until a darkness begins to consume her, and she takes agency into her own hands. I can see this taking literary ranks with some of the great dystopian classics. Social roles are dictated by a ticket. Emissaries guard borders and check points. There's a pervasive fear of the unknown. What happens to women who disobey? Who break from the norm and make the choice to betray their tickets? No one has a clear answer, and it is this fear that helps maintain the status quo. Punishment, of some sort is assumed, but women who leave their roles are never heard from again. Blue Ticket is not so much about overcoming the system, but questioning the philosophical construct of choice. Unlike female-led narratives in this genre, Calla doesn't want a revolution. She's not challenging the system to make a point. She's not looking for large-scale justification or even acceptance. She just knows that her body's demand to have a child can no longer be ignored. Even in her quest, she wonders if the system made a mistake, if she is misinterpreting her feelings, or if what she's doing is right. The moral implications are endless, and the internal conflict, while quiet, was emotionally wrought and moving. I couldn't stop reading this. I was less interested in the possible twist and outcome than I was with Calla's journey, her introspection, and her observations about women. This is probably what I loved most of all about Blue Ticket. Despite the fictional backdrop, the circumstances the female characters face are very much present in today's society. The belief that others can dictate a woman's choices, take away her say in what happens to her body--that's here, that's now. There's also how women treat each other. She judges other blue tickets and her own by their wardrobes and lifestyles, their habits. She judges white tickets for their stereotypical family life and suburban aesthetics. *brief spoilers* In the remote environment, these critical behaviors become even more apparent, pitting the women against each other instead of reinforcing their unity. "All in this together" is both one hundred percent true and one hundred percent false simultaneously. Mackintosh's writing is elegant and lyrical, but her critiques are resonant. I found myself rereading passages because I had such a WOW reaction. This is the kind of book that will stick to your bones, shake your core, and dig roots in your heart. 11/10 will reread. Big, big thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration. Blue Ticket is a must-read for 2020 and a re-read forever after that. Its quiet beauty is one you won't want to miss.
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  • Victoria Sadler
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, this is a shame; Blue Ticket is a disappointing second novel from Sophie Mackintosh. Her debut, The Water Cure, was utter magnificence; a deftly crafted nuanced story of sisters who have grown up on a remote island without the presence of men in their lives. However, that well-developed world creation filled with a fascinating set of characters and believable plot is missing in Blue Ticket.In this novel, we are set in a world where young girls are allocated firm categories at puberty: to be Oh, this is a shame; Blue Ticket is a disappointing second novel from Sophie Mackintosh. Her debut, The Water Cure, was utter magnificence; a deftly crafted nuanced story of sisters who have grown up on a remote island without the presence of men in their lives. However, that well-developed world creation filled with a fascinating set of characters and believable plot is missing in Blue Ticket.In this novel, we are set in a world where young girls are allocated firm categories at puberty: to be given a white ticket means that you are marked out for motherhood and compulsory babies, a blue ticket means that you must remain childless. And these responsibilities are policed to the nth degree. Only quite why the world has introduced such rigorous inflexible categorisation is unclear; I certainly can’t think of a reason why that would be. And that the book neve gets its head round this is a gaping chasm that undermines the plot. Feminist speculative fiction is everywhere right now, and some great ones at that (incl. The Water Cure) but a key requirement in this genre is internal coherence and there is none here. In fact, it is exacerbated by the fact the once young girls are given blue tickets, they are immediately thrown out of civil society altogether literally; they are put on the streets, thrown out into the woods with only their wits to survive.But why?We never find out. All we have, instead is Calla. She is our (approximately) 30-year old blue-ticketed narrator. She leads a shallow, unfulfilling life so decides to become pregnant – against all the rules – and give birth to a child.A strong plotline with plenty of opportunity for conflict but, sadly, the book displays so little of that as it quickly sets into an endless internal monologue from Calla. And this goes on for pages and pages and pages. As a result, we lose interest as readers, remain perplexed at plot holes, get increasingly alienated from the narrator’s obsessive self-interest and are never the wiser on why Calla rally wants a baby. I sense that Sophie wanted to examine themes of male violence, patriarchal structures and even nature vs nurture (if you are commanded to have no children, does this shape your personality without you realising it?)The book meanders away for about 200 pages, only in the last 50 or so the plot gaining some complexity but how many will still continue to be reading at that point, I am unsure.This book though has not dissuaded me from wanting to read more from Sophie. I sense in Blue Ticket a book hurried to market before the ideas and plot had been fully developed into a well-rounded novel. A touch of pressure from publishers to meet demand generated from The Water Cure? Possibly. Sophie remains an obvious talent and I hope she is given more time to fully flesh out her subsequent novels.
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