Saturday, June 9, 2018

Review: Folsom - Fisher & Aster

End of Men Series
by Fisher & Aster
Published: May 28, 2018
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Dystopian

The nation as we know it is a thing of the past. With the male species on the verge of extinction, a society called the End Men is formed to save the world. Folsom Donahue is one of twelve men whose sole purpose is to repopulate the Regions. The endless days spent having sex with strangers leaves Folsom with an emptiness no amount of women, money, or status can fill.

Until Gwen.

Gwen has wanted a child for as long as she can remember, but when she finally gets a chance to have her own, she uncovers a long-hidden truth. The injustice she sees moves her to help save the men whom no one else believes need saving.

A forbidden love, grown in a time of despair, ignites a revolution. Folsom and Gwen, torn between their love for each other and their sense of duty, must make a choice. But some will stop at nothing to destroy them.

4.5 Stars

There are books that leave their mark on you, whether it be a change in thought or an ache in your chest, but Fisher and Aster have done more with Folsom. I felt the shift in me as I read, my thoughts clicking into place as the book drew closer to its end, my heart beating in recognition of the similarities the book has with real events happening today. Folsom is a tale of fiction, the first novel in The End of Men series, but it is real in its power to make you think. Yes, I saw many similarities to The Handmaid's Tale, and even The Hunger Games, but I found Folsom to be a unique, powerful story as well.

"She wants to think she's seducing me, but my body is read. It's always forced to be ready."

There are twelve men left in the world with the ability to reproduce and there are thousands of women willing to shill out money for an appointment with those men. They are The End Men and they are owned by The Society; they will sleep with you, leave you thinking they enjoyed it, and return to their temporary housing alone. They are very aware that they no longer own their lives, but it is what they must do. The women rule the world, with female partners by their side as they lead their regions and try to uncover the science behind the failing Y chromosome. They treat the men as royalty, the youth are raised exalting the men, but even the meekest women can see that something is not right. Folsom is one of those men, the eldest and most praised End Men, and Gwen is supposed to be just another appointment, only she sees the real man behind the duty. She uncovers the truth that women have taken this power too far and the men are no longer even that, their name a harsh title for the reality, that they are a means to an end only.

"I can see the hope in her eyes, possibly the greed as well."

Gwen is quiet and defiant, a smart woman whose dream of a child drives her to enter the science field, something women who can bear children do not do, and still try to conceive with The End Men. She is smarter than she appears, her brains and mouth something others try to avoid, while Folsom finds himself drawn to her. Though their interactions at first are few and far between they leave an impression on eachother. Folsom, comfortable in his easy life though aware something is missing, has hidden his emotions away and accepted the now boring role. I enjoyed his chapters the most, this idea that just one person could spark his emotions back to life, lighting a fire in him, and others, to see that they are comfortable in something that is not okay was very interesting. It made me think of the years of appointments he'd kept, the ugly acceptance that someone else hold his choices in their hands, and yet one person speaking out made him shake the dust off and recognize that he too hates his role and the bleak future in front of him. Additionally, we see the secondary characters shift, falling like dominoes in the wake of Gwen's realizations. Some try to hold to this old version of themselves, but ultimately they're left choosing a side and who chooses good and who chooses evil just might surprise you. It certainly surprised me.

"I feel a shelling of jealousy; I had him first. And then I laugh to myself. Stupid woman."

I think the part I enjoyed most was the focus on women who were in power and still electing to do something so morbid. For me, it was similar to the view many have today that men are leading us astray with their power and their ability to control, but in Folsom, when men become the weaker women, their anger and resentment of the men becomes their ultimate downfall. It is mass sexism against men that Fisher and Aster weave this tale around, showing us that it is the women with humanity left in them, those not swayed by power, who can fix it. If you aren't following, it's the same power feminists fight against every single day, the same equality Gwen wants is the equality we want. Though the women's abuse of power can be seen as not embracing the age of women, it is those women who argue against it who truly are in power. It mirrors the politics of the present, but in Folsom we find hope in Gwen and her battle cry and the followers willing to fight for the dream of equality. Fisher and Aster are telling us that our compassion and sympathy, our general human awareness, will prevail over the thirst of power.

"This is the way it should be. Men allowed to hunt."

Folsom was an engaging read for me, not just because of the dystopian nature and politics, but also due to the sexy, forbidden romance between Gwen and Folsom. For some it may come across as an unrealistic, lust-driven bond, but in their shoes, with their power of self taken away, the comfort they find in one another to be themselves, to share their thoughts, is a powerful drug neither can deny. The draw they have to one another may be just a spark, the love may seem immature, but it lights a wildfire, and with an ending like that I am sure that Fisher and Aster have more to tell us about human nature and the connections humans seek out and cultivate. We'll never know who Gwen might have been had Folsom not been her appointment, but we know that she will rise and shake the very core of The Society.

"We don't belong to each other anymore. Be careful what you wish for."

I highlighted many passaged and though I could see hints of each author, with certain phrases definitely coming from the mouth of Tarryn Fisher, it is one of the best dual-author novels I have read. I highly recommend this one and cannot wait for more. If you're scared off due to the dystopian nature of it, fear not, it doesn't hold as much weight in this novel as many others in the genre do.
About the Authors

  Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of nine novels. Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington with her children, husband, and psychotic husky. Tarryn writes about villains.

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Willow Aster is the author of True Love Story, In the Fields, Maybe Maby, Fade to Red, and Lilith. Willow loves nothing more than writing the day away—anywhere will do. Her husband and two children graciously put up with her endless daydreaming and make fun of her for reading while cooking. 

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