I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A harsh world where food is scarce and two young women must decide what they are willing to do in order to survive and whether they can help others survive in the process in author Cody T. Luff’s novel “Ration”.
Cynthia and Imeld have always lived in the Apartments. A world where every calorie is rationed and the girls who live there are forced to weigh their own hunger against the lives of the others living in the building. It’s a world where the threat of the Wet Room and Ms. Lion always lingers, and punishments are doled out heavily both by the Women who oversee them and the other girls.
When Cynthia is wrongly accused of eating an “A” ration which leads to the death of another girl, her peers punish her harshly. In seeking revenge, she is forced from the only home she has ever known, out into the broader world with one of the Women—Ms. Glennoc—who has tormented her for years. Hunger mixes with politics, intrigue, and social status, and Cynthia needs to figure it out quickly if she’s going to survive and make it back to the Apartments to save Imeld.
With her friend and Ms. Glennoc gone, Imeld is lost. Ms. Tuttle forces her to step into Ms. Glennoc’s shoes, taking on the role of a Woman in charge of all the girls, the punishments, and the Wet Room. The new role feels wrong, especially as Ms. Tuttle’s behavior becomes more and more erratic. Imeld can’t turn her back on the other girls in the Apartments, but how can she save them when she isn’t sure how to save herself? If they rebel against Ms. Tuttle and the other Women, will they starve?
Set in the far future, Ration is an unflinching take on the ways society can both thrive and go wrong as the pressure to survive builds.
This book was incredibly well written. From the novel’s first pages, readers get a sense of being in the opening scene of Stephen King’s Carrie, if Carrie took place in the world of author Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale. A world ravaged by an unknown virus that has taken the lives of all men in the world, and the women left created a brutal system of survival like no other.
The two main perspectives shown throughout the novel are stark contrasts with one another, as we see the innocent protagonist Cynthia thrust into a cruel reality and fighting not just to survive, but to find a way to punish those who made her and her fellow “girls” suffer. Then there is Ms. Tuttle, the strict leader of the Apartments, who follows the rules to a T but finds herself caught between a secret of her own and the harshness of her mother and the political world they come from.
A truly gripping tale, the novel does an excellent job of delving into the despair of a dystopian novel while inciting horror and terror into the actions and ways in which the survivors of this world have adapted, where flesh and lower class “girls” are a commodity for the higher class “women” to use as they please, and even amongst advocates for change, no one can truly be completely trusted.
This is a breathtaking thriller and horror adventure like no other. While the book has it’s gruesome moments when delving into the specific “payments” made by the girls, it is the pacing of the author’s writing that sells the horror aspect of this novel. Combine this with the despairing the reader feels in the dystopian setting, and readers can expect a truly engaging read that is sure to become a cult classic in the genre. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of “Ration” by Cody T. Luff today!
About the Author
Cody’s stories have appeared in Pilgrimage, Cirque, KYSO Flash, Menda City Review, Swamp Biscuits & Tea, and others. He is fiction winner of the 2016 Montana Book Festival Regional Emerging Writers Contest.
Cody teaches at Portland Community College and works as a story editor. He completed an intensive MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Cody grew up listening to stories in his grandfather’s barber shop as he shined shoes, stories told to him at bedsides and on front porches, deep in his father’s favorite woods, and in the cabs of pickup trucks on lonely dirt roads. Cody’s work explores those things both small and wondrous that move the soul, whether they be deeply real or strikingly surreal.