The Book of the Unnamed Midwife

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere 1) - Meg Elison

The Book of the Unnamed Midwife is set in the dystopian near future. A plague has wiped humanity out, leaving one woman to every ten men. And almost all of those women are traded as commodities. Because what better thing can you bargain with than something that is so rare that most men haven't seen since before the plague?


The Midwife, who changes her name and appearance throughout the narrative, writes everything she sees and experiences in her journey about the US looking for other survivors. At least other female survivors. No children have been born, and those few women who have become pregnant have died immediately following childbirth, so the Midwife hands out birth control to all the women she comes across, hoping to help preserve their lives.


There are very graphic descriptions of rape, murder, and stillbirth. This can be incredibly triggering, and needs to be very clear. This is not a happy book, it's not a hopeful book. It's a very gritty, disturbing, and honest look at what happens after civilization falls, and individuals are left alone to their own devices. 


That being said, I liked the book. It's written in a style that's rather unique, and may be difficult for many to get into. It's part narrative, part journaling, part chronicling. And the jumps between the POV's are very sudden, with no apparent rhyme or reason. It's a difficult book to finish, mostly due to the subject matter. But I'm glad I read and finished it. It was worth the discomfort I felt at many places, knowing that all that stands between "Us" and "Them" is our thin veneer of humanity and compassion.


In the interest of disclosure, I received a copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley.