Thank you to NetGalley, Xpresso Book Tours and Mya Robarts for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it!
From its hypnotic cover and intriguing description, I knew I was in for an interesting read with The V Girl, the first novel from author Mya Robarts. What I didn’t expect was to unveil a stirring and horrifyingly accurate portrayal of rape culture, the decaying state of equality, and the brutality of war.
The V Girl should be required reading for anyone who thinks feminism is a bad idea. (If you believe that, get off the planet, but that’s another blog post altogether). It’s the tale of Lila Veraz, a young girl living in a future North America, where rape and sexual slavery are sanctioned by the government – even celebrated, in crude and terrifying “recruitment” ceremonies.
Desperate to lose her virginity before the troops arrive, Lila decides to ask her best friend Rey to help her. While she’s not in love with Rey, Lila does recognize that he’s conventionally good looking, gentle, and won’t hurt her. When she meets a visitor to their area, Aleksey, Lila’s plans are stymied by her immediate and searing attraction – and fear.
For Lila’s past is one mired in pain and grief over the rape and kidnapping of her beloved mother. Aleksey stirs memories that she’d prefer were buried deep. As they stumble toward each other, and away, Aleksey and Lila will uncover how it’s possible to love – and live – while surrounded by rape, torture, cruelty and the banality of evil.
Not to say it’s all pain, however. The relationships between Lila and her friends, family and Aleksey are well sketched, and often extremely moving. Her sexual awakening is also very lovingly done, with the choice of when, where and who with, so explicitly hers – despite the rape culture she lives within – that it made me want to cheer.
The V Girl isn’t perfect, of course. Some parts are mildly confusing, and I didn’t feel that Robarts ‘sense of place’ had evolved to its full potential, however, those are minor quibbles.
The V Girl is a brilliantly and beautifully told story of human endurance – in particular female endurance – in the face of deprivation, torture and sexual sublimation, and our ability to love, despite it all.