We’re off to a great start.
This is a fierce, angry novel that takes some heavy contemporary issues – misogyny and slut-shaming chief among them – and bakes them into a brutal dystopian fable.
The premise: ten young women who’ve all been caught up in some kind of sex scandal wake up in a makeshift outback prison, forced to do hard labour for their “sins”.
It’s a little Margaret Atwood and a little Cormac McCarthy but it’s also strangely reminiscent of that deeply discomfiting Australian film Wake in Fright. That’s a very male film and this is a very female book but both use the Australian wasteland to chilling allegorical and psychological effect.
Inspired by real-life events like NRL gang rapes and the Diane Brimble case, this is a feminist book with a message; but it’s all the more powerful because it’s never preachy. It’s fuelled by righteous rage but it’s not a lecture.
It’s relentlessly grim but Wood’s crisp and elegant writing make it an effortless read.
I’ll be stunned if it doesn’t start collecting some awards in the coming months.
Next: a post-apocalypse with a citrus twist.