10. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
I picked up a copy of this book at ALA Midwinter thinking it was another book that I had on my to-read list. It turns out I was confused, and when I read what this book was about I wasn’t sure I actually wanted to read it because I usually greatly dislike dystopian future stuff. I’m glad that I took a chance on it though because I wound up really enjoying this book.
The story take place in the future (duh, dystopian future). After a virus that swept the world making women infertile and threatening the existence of humanity, the United States has become a religious state in which ultra-conservatives rule. Additionally, in order to save money all except the most violent criminals are no longer kept in prison. Instead they are injected with a virus that causes their skin to turn various colors based on the level of their crime.
Hannah Payne, the protagonist of the novel, has been sentenced to be a Red for 16 years for aborting her unborn child. She is under additional pressure for refusing to name both the person who performed the abortion and the father of child, who is a highly revered and married minister. Now that she has been released out into the world as a Red, Hannah must face the prejudice the world has for Chromes (the criminals who have been injected with color), come to terms with her own guilt, defend her life against a fringe group attempting to kill Chromes, and figure out what her future is going to be while on the run.
It very much reminded me of a cross between The Handmaid’s Tale and The Scarlet Letter. It brings up lots of issues such as the oppression of women, and the dangers of the human trappings of religion rule politically in a dictatorship. I give it a 9 out of 10.