Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Book Review: Curfew

By Sara Steven

Imagine a near-future Britain in which women dominate workplaces, public spaces, and government. Where the gender pay gap no longer exists and motherhood opens doors instead of closing them. Where women are no longer afraid to walk home alone, to cross a dark parking lot, or to catch the last train.

Where all men are electronically tagged and not allowed out after 7 p.m.

But the curfew hasn’t made life easy for everyone. Sarah is a single mother who happily rebuilt her life after her husband, Greg, was sent to prison for breaking curfew. Now he’s about to be released, and Sarah isn’t expecting a happy reunion, given that she’s the reason he was sent there.

Her teenage daughter, Cass, hates living in a world that restricts boys like her best friend, Billy. Billy would never hurt anyone, and she’s determined to prove it. Somehow.

Helen is a teacher at the local school. Secretly desperate for a baby, she’s applied for a cohab certificate with her boyfriend, Tom, and is terrified that they won’t get it. The last thing she wants is to have a baby on her own.

These women don’t know it yet, but one of them is about to be violently murdered. Evidence will suggest that she died late at night and that she knew her attacker. It couldn’t have been a man because a CURFEW tag is a solid alibi. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Curfew was a bit of a dystopian thriller that focused heavily on the appearance of things, vs. the way things really are when the timeframe of this epic novel takes place. Is it really all men who are to blame for the social discrepancies for women? It was an interesting question, and one that Cass continually asks when she’s trying to understand why her father was sent to prison for breaking curfew–did he really deserve it? And does curfew need to apply to all men, regardless of who they are, or should it be determined on a case by case basis? 

Pamela is one of the officers who has been assigned to the recent murder case–a woman found dead, and due to the curfew laws and regulations, fingers are pointed towards the murderer being female vs. male. As Pamela discovers, no one wants to focus on the fact that the curfew system might not be as sound or as accurate as what has been depicted, and her higher ups would rather peddle an image of a female killer to the media than to admit that it could be a man who’d been out past curfew. Appearance over truth.

What I loved about Curfew were the role reversals and the deeper meaning behind it. A good example of this would be Cass’s friend Billy, who has been relegated to wearing a tagging device since childhood, as all males have, simply due to his sex and not because of his character. As he ages and grows even more within the curfew system, will it change him? Will his character darken, much like a wild animal who has been caged and stripped of their freedom–has the curfew system done that to all men who endure it, or is it really a needed protective measure?

The next question would be: is the perpetrator male, or female? And, what does that really mean for society as a whole? The whole point of the tagging system is to ensure the safety and security of women, but if there’s a woman who has committed murder, what does that say about the curfew system as a whole? It was that sort of constant back and forth mentality that really led me down some dark alleyways in my own mind, not ever sure who the perpetrator really was until the very end and what is morally right when it comes to the proper treatment of humankind. There were a lot of deep messages here, along with the mystery and intrigue, which made Curfew a downright scary (in a good way) five star experience! 

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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