Bookreview: Het Schaduwjaar (The Grace Year) by Kim Liggett

A couple of days ago I wrote a post all about me not reading YA for a very long time. Until this book came along… I got an e-mail from the Dutch publisher – Best of YA – asking if I wanted to receive an ARC of Het Schaduwjaar (The Grace Year in English) by Kim Liggett. Even though I wasn’t feeling YA at the time, it did sound good so I said yes. I got the book, started reading it that same afternoon and finished it that same evening. Yes, you’re reading that right… I finished this book in a matter of hours. I am not known to be a fast reader, at all. I get distracted pretty easily. But this book, it just had me in its grasp. It was amazing!

Het Schaduwjaar is being published today here in The Netherlands, hooray! Which is quite special, because it is the first country where this book is released. The English – original – version will be published October 8th. So all English readers will have to wait a little bit longer. I feel very very lucky that I’ve been able to read this book already! Also, I just have to mention the cover! Isn’t it gorgeous?! I love the pink and the red and I feel like it definitely suits the book. I’m glad the Dutch publisher kept the original cover.

Het Schaduwjaar by Kim Liggett
Published by Best of YA on the 17th of September
Dutch translation of The Grace Year
399 pages

Survive the year.

No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

Ok, so I’ve already said I loved this book but honestly, that doesn’t do it justice. I think this might be one of the best books I’ve ever read… and no, I’m not exaggerating when I say that. This will definitely be my fave read of 2019, I’m sure nothing can top it in the few months we have left this year. I’m not sure if I can explain why I love this book so much. I just have all these feelings and I don’t really know how to put them to words. But I’ll try!

This book definitely has some Hunger Games vibes, I’ve also read that it has a resemblance to The Handmaid’s Tale. Now I can’t attest to that since I have not read that book. But these two title being sort of compared to this does give you an idea of the direction this book is going in. Don’t let yourself be fooled by the pink cover. This is definitely not some light chick-lit (not that there’s anything wrong with that). This book is horrifying, it’s gruesome, it’s beyond belief. I am not really the type to read grim books. But somehow I loved this, well maybe that’s not the right description because it was really horrible sometimes. But because it was so horrible, it shocked me… in a way that I just wanted to keep on reading. I couldn’t believe what I was reading really. Kim Liggett had a really big imagination I can tell you that much. She also has a gift to make it feel so real. The characters really came alive. I wanted to hug Tierney, and wanted to kill some others… But that definitely made this book so good.

It’s fast-paced, surprising, shocking, horrifying, beautiful and gripping all in one. It left me wanting more. And as the author herself has confirmed to me on Twitter there will be another book written in this world. I personally can not wait. I need to read more. I wish there was a sequel right now, I know I’d devour it. I also feel like The Grace Year is a book that fits the current world we live in so well. It definitely has a feminist theme to it, so it’s not just an enjoyable read. It does have a deeper layer, it does have an underlying message. So besides it being a good read, I feel it is also an important read. I also liked that this book wasn’t focussed on romance so much. Yes, there is romance in here. But it wasn’t the most important thing if you ask me. And I felt like that was really refreshing. I mean, we all love a bit of romance, but sometimes it’s just too much. So I loved that this book was more centered on other things.

Well, if I haven’t convinced you to pick up this book by now, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. GO READ THIS BOOK. If you’re a fellow Dutchie, go run to the store, please. You’ll thank me later! And if you’re not Dutch, just pre-order it so you’ll get it right away when it’s out in October.

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