I had been craving a good dystopian novel, so I scanned my to-be-read list for one. I found it in Alan Stroe’s Against Her Gentle Sword: Fighting for Love and Freedom in a Woman’s World. Stroe’s novel, which is set on an unidentified tropical island known only as The Colony, centers around Dario. As he is set to graduate high school, Dario has been selected for a fencing competition during which he will be selected by certain chosen females for his hand in marriage and his Reproductive License. He need not win, he just has to impress one of the female Protectresses. Dario’s dilemma is that he will have to battle against some of his closest friends. His choices: fight against his friends (knowing the loser will face a humiliating Defeat Ritual) or try to impress Gwendolyn, the girl he has always loved. Things get complicated when the psychotic Sylvester disappears without a trace. Dario, increasingly frustrated with The Colony’s unwarranted gender discrimination and the female-dominated authorities’ apparent unawareness of the danger they are in at the hands of Sylvester and his gang of renegades, knows that now is the time to take action, even if it means losing Gwen, the only thing in his life that means anything to him.
While the reverse gender discrimination is certainly an attention-grabber, it is not the main theme of the book. I think the most important message that Stroe wishes to convey is that people need to be treated as individuals, regardless of gender (or race, ethnicity, or anything else). Making rules and laws based on stereotypes and assumptions is not only unjust, it is potentially dangerous. Stroe also skillfully tackles the theme of civilized society vs. anarchy, and challenges the reader to think about whether a patriarchal or matriarchal society would lead to less lawlessness and violence. The whole novel leaves that question up in the air. Education is also an important theme. School authorities are given very high positions of power within the government, and all children (male and female) are given a solid education (which, yes, does include a healthy dose of indoctrination).
So if the idea of a young-adult dystopian novella without the graphic violence of The Hunger Games sounds appealing, check out Stroe’s Against her Gentle Sword.
To read: http://www.amazon.com/Against-Her-Gentle-Sword-Fighting-ebook/dp/B00NNZRGBU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1419355404&sr=1-1&keywords=alan+stroe