The Blondes Hardcover – Aug 14 2012
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Trillium Award Finalist - 2013
An NPR Best Book of 2015
"An engaging, satirical study of our beauty-obsessed society and the idea that looks really can kill." —Chatelaine
"[Schultz] creates a clever, idea-layered landscape of speculative fiction in which she can deposit a very real, complex, somewhat self-absorbed yet ultimately sympathetic character, one who just by looking, feeling and responding to events both extraordinary and banal, speaks to myriad perceptions of women both real and invented." —National Post
"Corrosively humorous commentary on social, sexual and cross-border politics." —Toronto Star
"Sensitive and contemplative. . . . unnerving and sometimes comically macabre. . . . Schultz uses this worldwide calamity to . . . reflect on our tangled definitions of beauty and the life-altering responsibilities of motherhood. . . . A heroine who's also a feminist critic of pop culture is our perfect guide."
―The Washington Post
"Part hysterical dystopia, part coming-of-age story and devastatingly moving throughout . . . So finely realized that you might just rethink summer highlights forever."
"The story weaves together elements of suspense and satire, with an academic overlay of critical cultural theory, but at its essence it is a fast-paced, unpretentious read. A wash-and-wear cut, if you will. . . . Ultimately, The Blondes is streaked with honest sentiment and a surprisingly feel-good ending: dark enough to have weight, light enough to read at the beach."
—The Globe and Mail
“[A] smart new literary thriller. . . . A nail-biter that is equal parts suspense, science fiction, and a funny, dark sendup of the stranglehold of gender.”
―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
EMILY SCHULTZ's first book, Black Coffee Night, was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Award, while her second, Joyland, received rave reviews. Her most recent novel, Heaven is Small, was a finalist for the 2010 Trillium Award alongside Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Ian Brown, and Anne Michaels. Her criticism has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Eye Weekly, The Walrus Magazine, and several anthologies. Schultz also edits an influential website called "Joyland," which publishers short fiction and commentary from across North America. For this work, she was named one of Canada's digital innovators by Quill & Quire magazine. Schultz lives in Toronto and New York.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Blondes is about a grad student named Hazel Hayes who arrives fresh in New York City and discovers that she is pregnant. She’s not just pregnant, she’s pregnant with her professor’s child and her professor is married. Whoops. But that’s when an outbreak of Blonde Rabies starts. Blonde women across cities quickly become infected by a strange form of rabies and start attacking strangers. Hysteria ensues.
I loved the social commentary around the outbreak. Everyone reacts to it differently. Some characters are petrified, some move away to places with fewer blondes, others pretend it’s not happening at all – while the media plays it up to no end. I guess I was disappointed that Hazel doesn’t have much of a reaction but then, what is a pregnant single mother-to-be to do?
Hazel is no hero but I think her role in The Blondes says a lot about the complicated relationships between women. There is often sense of competition, jealousy and fear between us that makes us all seem a little rabid. But there’s always this underlying desire to belong – to have a sisterhood and that’s most apparent when Hazel finds a friend where she would least expect it.
Hazel Hayes is an ordinary girl who moves from Toronto to New York City to finish her thesis on women and vanity when she finds herself pregnant just as the world becomes consumed with hysterical, raging blondes wreaking havoc and attacking people. Anyone living in Toronto during SARS or the Bird Flu scare or anywhere during a potential pandemic will understand the fear, the unknown and the desperation portrayed in this novel. The Blondes takes it a step further by exploring an illness that affects only women, particularly blondes, both natural and bleached, and how the rest of the world, from brunettes to men, react to them, their vanity at having to shave their heads, and the discrimination, the persecution, and the indignities they are treated to.
Told from the point of view of Hazel Hayes, whose pregnancy was unplanned, she gradually tells her unborn baby about how the events unfolded to get them to the cabin they were hunkered down in. Hazel starts her story at the cabin and then would skip back to various points in time from how the infections began, to how she met the baby's father and moved to New York and other times in her past. However, at no time was I confused or thought this detracted from the story. It was masterfully done. I zipped through pages to see whether she would make it out of the cabin and was equally fascinated by how the infection started, spread and the reaction to it as well as the dysfunctional relationship she had with the baby's father.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
(Possible spoilers, but mostly vague info)
The main character doesn't like herself much. You learn she's pregnant, and wanted an abortion that she was unable to obtain, so you know she doesn't like her baby much, either. She also doesn't like the baby's father much, nor his wife, with whom she has ended up living. She also didn't like her own mother much, nor her stepfather. And, she doesn't have many friends, and the ones she has, she's not very close to.
Starting out with this premise I was expecting that some personal growth and relationship building would occur in the story, but that didn't happen. It seemed to be mainly a story about how disappointed the main character was with every aspect of her life. She survives pretty much by accident, and doesn't seem to really be all that happy to be alive, so it's really hard to connect to her.
I feel bad posting low rated reviews, because I know the authors work very hard to produce their work, but I just didn't enjoy this story. I will look for other things by the author since she is a good writer...just not a good storyteller in this instance.
So, first things first: It's satire - not humor. I don't want you tripping up on that. I realize the product description says 'hilarious' and that is absolutely the wrong word for this book. Maybe (just maybe) you'll find a touch of black humor in some of the scenarios and terms like the Blonde Fury, but what you actually get is a grim, weird, and compelling apocalypse that really forces you to look at the importance appearance plays in our lives.
As for the pandemic itself? I'll be honest and say that the author can't give it any scientific legitimacy. The book offers a few theories, but don't bother look at why this is happening. Eventually you simply have to accept that it *is* happening.
You'll also find that, in many ways, the book is less about the pandemic and more about people - about values, morals, and self discovery.
Our main character is hard to read. She's bitter, somewhat morally bankrupt, selfish, and hard to like. In fact, more of the darkness of the book comes from her than it does the pandemic. As you read the book, she's so very focused on herself (despite a few instances of feeling for her fellow man/woman). This is one egocentric girl. She's pregnant with the child of a married man and what does she do when she suddenly finds herself in the midst of an apocalypse? She goes to find him - despite the wife.
In fact, you'll find that you like very few of the characters in this book, yet you'll keep reading. I was dying to know how it would end.
This is a very different, but very good book. Just don't expect that word 'hilarious'.