"It is never good to know what is going to happen. Your own future is not a gift I can give you."
-Maria Turtschaninoff, Maresi
I received this book as an electronic galley through NetGalley from Amulet Books, and this in no way impacts my view of the book.
The first thing that drew me to this book was the cover. It's beautiful and intriguing, and makes you want to know what story is hidden beneath it. The style of the book reminds me of something Ursula Le Guin-esque, and this first installment in the series enveloped me into this new world that I definitely would love to delve into more.
Maresi follows the story of a 13-year-old girl of the same name who lives at the Red Abbey, an island where no men are allowed. When a new girl, Jai, arrives to the Abbey, Maresi notices that things start to change, start to not run quite as smoothly. When Jai's history starts to catch up to her at the Abbey, Maresi must do what it takes in order to save the Abbey.
The best aspect of this book was the feminist undertones throughout. Many of the girls who live at the Abbey are victims of violence from men, or have escaped from societies where the women are treated like dirt. The Abbey gives them power through knowledge, which is stated countless times throughout the book. The whole book, honestly, is a testament to Foucault's argument of knowledge and power, and being a Foucauldian scholar myself, I thoroughly enjoyed that aspect.
The main critique that I have is that this book did feel like a lot of set up, which is understandable for a first in a series. Moving around some of the plot points might have made this book faster paced and even better. That being said, the roundness of the characters makes up for the pacing of the book, and I was still invested enough in their stories to want to finish the book.
Overall, this is definitely a book that I would recommend to others, and you should check it out when it is released in January!