Today, on its publication day in the UK, I am so excited to share my review of the brilliant, heart-stopping, emotional new novel from Sophie Mackintosh, Blue Ticket.
I finished this last night in bed and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and I just had to write a review straight away. This Book! But first… what is it about? Here is the blurb:
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 children. A blue ticket grants you 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?
Blue Ticket is a devastating enquiry into free will and the fraught space of motherhood. Bold and chilling, it pushes beneath the skin of female identity and patriarchal violence, to the point where human longing meets our animal bodies.
Sounds good, right? Sophie Mackintosh is the author of the Man Booker long-listed novel in 2018, The Water Cure which I also loved and adored but I think this book is even better. This is a book that I have been waiting for ages as Sophie has quickly became one of my favourite authors and I just loved the sound of this. And when my copy arrived early, I couldn’t wait to get started.
Like all second novels, I think Sophie has really found her voice as a writer in this book. This is a story about a dystopian future (is that dystopian, one would argue?) where on your first bleed, you report to the station to what kind of woman you will be. A white ticket grants you children. A blue ticket grants you freedom. And once you have your ticket, there’s no going back… but what if the life you’re given is the wrong one? I really loved how she created a whole universe in the novel, it made it very atmospheric throughout.
It reminded me a lot of The Handmaid’s Tale but with an original, exciting, gripping twist. The writing in this novel is just beautiful. It is claustrophobic, isolated, but also hypnotic, dream-like, taut, sparse but precise – not a single word/sentence is wasted in this novel. For me, the writing is also very cinematic in its scope, too. It is colourful – from the blue/white tickets, to the green bathroom, to the beach, to the bars, the hotel, her home, Doctor A’s office, etc. It would look amazing as a film/TV series which I no doubt won’t be long as this is just a brilliant story.
“Please remember that I was not a survivalist, or someone instinctively good at being alive. Please understand that lots of mistakes were made, and some of them were necessary.”
It’s a tense read as the chapters are short and sparse but you just want to carry on reading to find out what happens next. As it closer to the end, I got very emotional when reading about it as the ending is heartbreaking but the perfect end to the novel, too. I loved how she used nature into the story, again, showing where the human meets the animal bodies. She’s talking a lot about motherhood, free will, female identity, patriarchal violence, consequences of your actions, and so much more.
In this second novel, Sophie Mackintosh has done it again and raised the bar even higher. She has found her voice, the characters she wants to explore, the subject matters she wants to investigate and after this, I can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve…
Have you read Blue Ticket? Are you planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments!