The Willing by Lindsay Lees
ABOUT THE BOOK
In less than a year, fifteen-year-old Gypsy Capone will be considered a woman in Ovoidia, a “utopian” city-state where every woman can be approached for immediate sex by any man, where curving architecture adds weird whimsy, sporks are the only cutlery, and true intimacy between the genders is a sign of suspect subversion. After all, if a woman just plays along, she’ll also do her job and have children, with the reward of a fine home in the “Communities,” where she and the other “Mamas” live together in harmony with everything they need. Right?
The irony: Diam and Isis, the two leaders of Ovoidia, are themselves females. Fun, yes! And just below the surface, perversely sinister. They personally execute these precise sacrifices by women to establish their “happy,” absurdly totalitarian utopia, and are backed up by their chosen army of male “crusaders,” enforcing a crime-free, fully controlled society.
Men are relegated to work in the “City” where they may “enjoy”—right there on the street if they wish—any woman they want and are welcome to satisfy their sexual and emotional needs at establishments called Gaje Clubs where only the most “gifted” among women are chosen to work.
Not surprisingly, in Ovoidia women have evolved until they feel nothing of sexual pleasure. But in Gypsy’s deepest heart, she realizes her own dark secret: she is the exception. Next she discovers to her horror that her secret, if known, could result in the ultimate punishment—genital mutilation.
To save her body and even her soul, Gypsy chooses a dangerous path—to single-handedly confront this scary and absurd world. She has the support of her allegiant sister Sadie and Miles Devine, a rogue, secretly gay crusader, and also “Doctor,” a morally questionable physician to help her. But none of them fathom the levels of paradox, incongruity, and twisted evil they will soon face, and the ride becomes something even Gypsy could have never imaged.
This is a frightening look at a dystopian/utopian world where women are raised to sacrifice their bodies for the greater good of their country.
The book is told from multiple points of view from a young girl at the cusp of womanhood who is questioning the system, a 70-year-old doctor whose values have changed from once being responsible for determining and carrying out the consequences for subversive behavior to helping young women escape, a virile and handsome gay man who is sexually exploited by his superiors, and a young woman who is coming to terms with her duties where the law says men are allowed to take her body (“approach”) anytime, anyplace without her consent.
The system is challenged by a young girl named Vegas who is thwarted from attempting suicide which is breaking the rules. The Head Gajes are a council of women who rule the country and have kept violence out of the City for years. The newest rulers are young and hungry for power who give the order to have Vegas circumcised on public television to keep the people under control. This act leads to much turmoil in the characters’ lives as they make decisions that will change their lives forever.
The characters are diverse and powerful as they work together and against each other to escape this crazy society. The world-building is ominous and filled with unpleasantness. The subject matter is heartbreaking and chilling as our world today is mired in human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and proposing laws to take away women’s rights to their bodies.
This is an unnerving and powerful story that gets to the heart of trying to make changes in a world gone mad. It’s unlike any other book I’ve read.
Thank you to Ms. Lees for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.
The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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Three shrill bells blasted through the hidden speakers in the shiny ceiling tiles. A warning. Five minutes later, another three shrills will announce everybody’s butts better be in their chairs.
Gypsy took a seat in the front row of the dark, stifling auditorium for her Life Science class and wiped the sweaty auburn hair off her neck. Every time she entered the steamy classroom, she considered chopping off her hair, but didn’t dare go through with it, in fear of what everyone would say. Stagnant air lingered near an open oval window. Gypsy smoothed her denim shift against her bare legs. The sweat was everywhere. The heat had only gotten worse that year. The whole country sizzled like a frying pan on a burner without a high point.
Gypsy slid her right hand under her desk and stroked the round screws. She was in year ten of Passage school—her second-to-last year—but she had stopped paying attention when the Madams began the boring task of preparing the girls for life as women in the Communities. Life Science consisted of learning and drilling domestic life hacks and mothering skills.
Next to the whiteboard, a laminated poster of the Head Gaje family tree depicted the original Gajes—six desultory faces with deep creases around their rage-filled eyes. As the generations progressed, the Head Gajes began to look more their age, skin less ravaged, eyes less resentful. The current Heads, with the open-ended parentheticals under their busts, were on the bottom row—laughing, mouths splayed open, and lips the shiniest shade of red.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lindsay Lees is originally from Los Angeles and holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the United Kingdom, and while growing up and later in college, she split her time between the two countries. Lindsay earned a B.A. in 2008 from Manchester Metropolitan University, and next an M.F.A.in Creative Writing from California College of the Arts. The Willing is Lindsay’s debut novel. She currently lives a quiet Southern life with her husband and a houseful of pets.