The Grace Year: A Vicious Survival Story

4.5/5 Stars

Author: Kim Liggett

Publisher/Imprint: Wednesday Books

Edition: e-ARC, 227 Digital Pages

Hardcover Publication Date: October 08, 2019

A Spine that Shines? Definitely!

*This review is based on the e-ARC edition provided via NetGalley. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*

We’re told we have the power to lure grown men from their beds, make boys lose their minds, and drive the wives mad with jealousy. They believe our very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood.

Tierney, The Grace Year

Initial Thoughts

Wow. The Grace Year is a pretty wild book! It’s a crazy mix of The Hunger Games and Lord of the Flies. I’ve also heard people say it has elements of The Handmaid’s Tale. I haven’t read that book yet, but based on the synopsis, I see where the comparison comes from. I also got some Nathaniel Hawthorne vibes from The Grace Year. After I finished reading The Grace Year yesterday, my mind was spinning.

So, what is The Grace Year actually about? Garner County is run by men who misuse the Bible to maintain societal control and instill fear in all of the women of the county. For their sixteenth year, the girls of Garner County are sent away, isolated, and given one year to rid themselves of their sinful “magic.” During this “Grace Year,” these young girls are hunted by “poachers,” supposedly because the grace year girls’ body parts have aphrodisiac and youth serum powers. Tierney James, our main girl, must find a way to survive the year.

Here are some elements of the novel to appreciate:

  • This novel really gives you something to think about and stays with you for a while after reading it.
  • That ENDING! I hardly ever cry while reading a book. (The Fault in Our Stars didn’t even make me cry.) But I was tearing up a bit at the ending of The Grace Year. Originally, I was planning to rate this book 4 stars, but after reading the ending, I knew I had to bump it up to 4.5 stars.
  • The Grace Year is a survival story with tons of action! It will definitely keep readers on their toes!
  • The author does a good job writing the characters in a way that makes you feel for them and sympathize – even with some of the mean characters. The society in which they live has really messed with their minds and their way of thinking. It’s difficult not to feel something.

‘My father always told me that it’s the small decisions you make when no one is watching that make you who you are. Who do we want to be?’

Tierney, The Grace Year

Characters & Romance

Let’s discuss some of the characters. I won’t go into too much detail here, because I don’t want to spoil the plot.

  • Tierney is a fierce, strong main character! Her determination to survive despite so many challenges is admirable. The other grace year girls in isolation with her do some terrible things to her! Tierney has a good heart and does her best to help the other girls survive even though they are really vicious. She wishes things could be different in the county.
  • Kiersten, one of Tierney’s enemies during the Grace Year, is a piece of work. She essentially claims a leadership role during the isolation, and she is determined to turn all of the other girls against Tierney. She convinces the girls to do eerie, crazy things to “embrace their magic” in order to rid themselves of it before the end of the year.
  • Tierney’s love-interest is another important character, but I won’t name him due to spoilers. I think it works best as a surprise. (Although, their relationship could still be considered slightly predictable.) The relationship that develops is an enemies-to-lovers relationship, and it eclipses the second half of the novel. While the first half of the novel is more of a survival story, the second half is romance-heavy. Perhaps the love-interest could’ve played a slightly larger role in the first half to make the romance feel more evenly distributed. But I liked Tierney and the guy as a couple and enjoyed seeing their relationship grow over a period of time. However, the romance does get a bit steamy – steamier than I would normally prefer for a YA novel. So it may be better suited for older readers on the YA spectrum.

The magic is real. Maybe not in the way they believe, but if you’re willing to open your eyes, open your heart, it’s all around us, inside us, waiting to be recognized.

Tierney, The Grace Year

Final Thoughts

Here are a few other things to note about The Grace Year.

  • The text is not divided into chapters, which I think I would’ve preferred. It is instead divided by seasons. I think I understand why it is divided this way, but I often prefer chapter divisions, because chapters can indicate where a good reading break might be and also help the story move along. [Edit: Another blogger has informed me that there will indeed be chapter divisions in the finished hardcover edition. Apparently, there was an error in the NetGalley e-ARCs. I’m still including this bullet point in my review, because the format did impact my reading experience.]
  • I would’ve liked to have learned more about what lies beyond the county.
  • There is one character death near the end that happens rather quickly. I think it could’ve been slowed down in that scene, because this person’s death does have an important impact on the story.
  • I don’t know where or when this story takes place. All we get is Garner County, the outskirts, and the “encampment” where the grace year girls are sent. That’s it. But is this post-appocalyptic U.S.? Or what? It does have a dystopian feel, but I’m not certain. The Bible, something from our world, appears in this story. (No sane characters would misinterpret the Bible in such a way, but these men are obviously not sane characters.) So perhaps it is supposed to be our world? I just don’t know where or when.

Overall, I’m giving The Grace Year 4.5 stars for leaving such an impact on me! If you’re looking for a thought-provoking, dystopian, survival/romance story, I’d recommend checking out this book when it releases on October 08th! Happy reading!

*Content Warnings: Lots of violence, bloody wounds, violent deaths, part of a girl’s scalp is ripped off, talk of girls being skinned alive by poachers, hallucinations, girls are forced to make babies and don’t get to choose the father, unwanted touching, nudity, sex. This novel definitely seems aimed at a more “mature” audience level.*

Next on My TBR: The Library of Lost Things (NetGalley ARC)

Library of Lost Things Cover

Spines that Shine

4 thoughts on “The Grace Year: A Vicious Survival Story”

  1. I’m so glad you liked this (: it definitely sounds dark although I felt like it probably would be from the blurb. I can’t wait to find out what the ending is and see how much it affects me (I’m not a big cryer at books either). Great review, I’m even more intrigued now than I was before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So glad to find someone else who loves the book 🙂 This book isn’t getting enough hype in my opinion!!

    The book’s lack of chapter divisions was actually a mistake with the e-galley available on NetGalley! In the final copy of the book, there will be chapters within the “season” divisions. My ARC had the same problems, but the author confirmed it was fixed if you re-downloaded it at a later date!

    Liked by 1 person

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