disclaimer: some of the content within this book can be triggering. moments of both abuse and assault are described.
calla knows how the lottery works. everyone does. on the day of your first bleed, you report to the station to learn what kind of woman you will be. a white ticket grants you marriage and children. a blue ticket grants you a career and freedom. you are relieved of the terrible burden of choice. and once you’ve taken your ticket, there is no going back. but what if the life you’re given is the wrong one?
when calla, a blue ticket woman, begins to question her fate, she must go on the run. but her survival will be dependent on the very qualities the lottery has taught her to question in herself and on the other women the system has pitted against her. pregnant and desperate, calla must contend with whether or not the lottery knows her better than she knows herself and what that might mean for her child.
in sophie mackintosh’s second novel, the blue ticket, we are transported to an unnamed and undated dystopia – one where the fate of all women relies on the color of a ticket they are given at the arrival of their first period.
unlike most dystopian novels, the blue ticket isn’t one that focuses on the inner workings of society and it’s corrupt leaders, nor is it one that follows the protagonist on their journey to tackle and take down this corruption. it is simply about a young woman who defies the government, who wants to be an exception to the rules, who wants the chance to choose.
one of my favorite things about this novel is how beautifully most, if not all, of the characters were written – they all seemed to be three-dimensional and realistic, as though mackintosh had created backstories and personalities for each and everyone of them, or better yet, as if she had plucked them all from real life.
the complexity of these characters made it hard for me, and i assume for many others, to distinguish which characters were worth noting and which were not. it even made it difficult to predict which characters i felt could be trusted. while these two things are sometimes a result of poor writing or lack of detail, it is clear that they were at least somewhat intentional for this novel. it made me feel as though i were right alongside calla, afraid of who would appear, who would notice me, and who would come to betray me.
speaking of calla, she is one of the most realistic characters i have read in a long time. the thoughts she has while in her journey are very self-contradicting. one chapter she’ll be dreaming and fantasizing of the future she’ll have with her child, and the next she’ll be having doubts on whether or not this was the right thing for her to do. and while these thoughts make calla appear as someone literally anyone could know in real life, they also make her appear as someone who didn’t think things through, and who maybe, just maybe, isn’t the best person around.
moving away from the characters, i think the storyline within this book is perfect – i love how it is a book that focuses mainly on women. i mean, it even has a super cute wlw romance within it. i won’t spoil this romance, but i will say, it definitely won’t be what you’re expecting. i also love how the blue ticket can definitely be interpreted as a feminist novel. i’m not sure if that’s the direction mackintosh intended to go in, but it’s there all right.
and, finally, whether you like the blue ticket or not, you’d be a fool to deny how excellent of a writer sophie mackintosh is – i was entranced with her writing from the get go. she was able to make me feel love and sadness so easily, and she was also able to make me cringe with the thought of feeling as much pain as calla herself felt. she wrote about sensitive topics like abuse and assault in a way that was lyrical, and although it was sometime tough to read, i couldn’t stop. i literally devoured this book in one long sitting, and i was never bored or tired of the story.
i am honestly quite shocked that this book has received little attention from the book community, or at least the community i am becoming more and more immersed in. the blue ticket is worth all your praise, time, and attention. it gives you a new perspective on the way people live their lives, and why they live them the way that they do. it leaves you longing for more. it leaves you unsatisfied, but in a good way. and it leaves you absolutely in love. please, go purchase this book if you haven’t already. you will not regret it.
“so i slipped it in my jacket pocket next to the knife, and the two objects knocked against each other, their own kind of communion. fragility and a hard edge. what i had lost, and what i had found.”
“i knew there was grief stored up in me like water trapped under the ground. i knew that i was never going to be the same, whatever happened. but i was still alive. i was still coursing with blood. i was skinless against the world, its terror, but its beauty too.”