Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Author Spotlight: The XY by Virginia Bergin - 4.5 stars + GIVEAWAY!

Posted by HelloJennyReviews at 9:00 AM
Born 1966, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK. Studied psychology and (briefly) fine art/film and video at university. I have had lots of different jobs – so many I’ve lost count – and I even got paid to write for documentary, corporate and e-learning projects.  I live on a council estate in Bristol, UK. Er . . . and I like science, archaeology, nature, art and walking. You can read more about Virginia and her books by going to her website here.

Title: The XY
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Author: Virginia Bergin
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication: November 6th 2018
Recommend: Yes
Cover Rating: 3/5
Reading Format: Provided Finished Copy(Thank you!)

The XY by Virginia Bergin is a very heavy book about a world where men have died off from a disease that attacks their Y chromosome. We are shown a world where women have had to pick up everything after men have died off and start anew. This is a beautiful and sad story with some amazing feminist messages. 

Our main character is River and we get to view this world through her eyes. She is on her way home. riding a horse out in the open. She has nothing to fear because there is pretty much no crime in her world. Then she stumbles upon a strange girl laying in the middle of her path. River gets off her horse to see if the girl is okay and to render aid if needed because, in her world, everyone has the ability to render basic first aid. But upon closer inspection River sees that this girl is different. This girl is an... XY.

The XY happened to be named Mason and he shouldn't be able to survive outside of these special sanctuaries men have to stay in ever since the illness that ravaged the male population. When we meet Mason we learn that men are taught to fear women. We learn so many things just because Mason showed up. We learn that the younger female, the ones who have never lived with men, at pretty feminist but the older women miss their boys so much. We also learn that not everything is as it appears to be in this society.

I can honestly say reading this book was an adventure for me. Some of the things that River had never heard of or said were myths or stories was so fascinating to me because those things are real to me. Not only did men die off in this world but so did a lot of home technologies. This world was both primitive AND technologically advanced at the same time.

In the end, I am so glad this book was written and I had the honor to read it and converse with the author. 

Overall, I gave the book 4.5/5 stars.

What was the inspiration behind The XY?

A lifetime of wondering and yearning and wishing and wanting and needing things to be different.

More specifically, a teen friend of mine told me she was reading Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy at school – and that she hated it. I read that same book at her age - 35 years ago! - and I thought . . . what would it be like to tell a different story?

I decided I wanted to tell a story in which women weren’t victims and men weren’t oppressors, a story that would question the very concept of gender.

Is The XY meant to be a feminist story?

It is. Absolutely.

River, the main character, has been raised in a world in which old gender expectations have almost (but not quite!) ceased to exist. She is free from so many of our ways of thinking, free from the constraints and injustices today’s women face – and, because of this, she is able to see the world through fresh eyes, and to make new decisions.

Without giving away the whole plot, The XY presents the world at a pivotal moment, in which it will be possible to decide that a person’s rights, opportunities and role in society should in no way be determined by gender – or, for example, by chromosomes. I can’t think of a more feminist story than that.

If you had to pitch The XY to a potential reader, who didn't know you were the author, what would you say?

Ha! That is, in fact, a very tricky question – because it’s nearly impossible to pitch The XY without evoking the very binary notions of gender that the book ends up challenging!

So ‘Imagine a world without men’ or ‘Imagine a world run by women’ just doesn’t cut it, as that would fall back on a unified idea of ‘women’ and a unified idea of ‘men’, and of them being somehow fundamentally different . . .

See what I mean? Gender is a minefield in a swamp. It is both a lived reality and a fabrication, a construction of human society. It can also be incredibly tricky to pin down; the moment you think you are pointing straight at it, you may blink and find the only thing you are pointing at is your self.

Read The XY if you want a story with no easy answers, but plenty of questions!

There are so many questions this book brings to mind and so many things that it was bashed for in the reviews I have read and I am going to pose those questions and answer them myself below:

Is this book feminist?
Yes, I do believe it is. It is about a world where men have died off because of a disease that only attacks their male genetics and leaves women to fend for themselves. Not only do the women succeed in fending for themselves but they have made a world where war and other nasty things don't really happen. Women are so often told that they wouldn't survive without men and this book shows that that really isn't the case.

Is this book sexist towards men?
No, not at all. If the book showed a perfect world after the men died then, yeah, maybe I could understand that point of view. But this world is still terribly flawed and the older women in the book miss boys/men. If the book was meant to be sexist and nasty then no one would miss men. 

Do I want men to die?
No, why would I? Just because I read a book about a world where men got sick and woman carried on doesn't mean anything. It's like how the world carried on after the dinosaurs died. I love my husband, father, and brother very much. I have mostly male friends. Have I met some horrible men? You are damn right I have. But I have also met far more great men and that outweighs the bad.

Would I want to live in this world?
No, I don't think I would. As I said above, I love the men in my life. But aside from that aspect, I really don't think I am built for life without a computer at my fingertips or video games or Taco Bell. 

Do I think men are the main cause of war/violence?
Sadly, I have the say yes to this question. Men start wars, men kill each other, men do a lot of horrible things for little to no reason. Do I think all men are like this? No. My husband is proof that good men do exist. But for some reason, over the years, when groups of men get together, nothing good usually comes from it. You can call me sexist or whatever you want but its the truth and there is plenty of evidence throughout history to back this up. And, Yes, women have done these things too but never to the extent of what men have done.

Should you read this book?
Yes. Absolutely yes. But go into it with an understanding of what feminism is. Do not just jump on a bandwagon and believe someone's review or opinion on a topic or book just because they sound like they know what they are talking about. Form your own opinions. Sometimes, people believe something to be THIS when in reality it is THAT. This book is a beautiful story and I would hate for so many people to miss it just because others can't comprehend what the story is truly about.

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