Book Review: Bannerless (Bannerless Saga #1) by Carrie Vaughn

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher:  Houghton Mifflin

Summary:   A mysterious murder in a dystopian future leads a novice investigator to question what she's learned about the foundation of her population-controlled society. Decades after economic and environmental collapse destroys much of civilization in the United States, the Coast Road region isn't just surviving but thriving by some accounts, building something new on the ruins of what came before. A culture of population control has developed in which people, organized into households, must earn the children they bear by proving they can take care of them and are awarded symbolic banners to demonstrate this privilege. In the meantime, birth control is mandatory.

I read a short story entitled Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn in the anthology, The End Has Come (The Apocalypse Tiptych #3) and very much enjoyed it (read in February 2016). I'd completely forgotten about it when I saw Bannerless up for review on Netgalley, it seemed like something I'd love to read so I jumped on it. It wasn't until I read the first chapter that it dawned on me that I had been introduced to this world before.

I very much enjoyed this trek through Enid, the investigator's, world. They mystery of what's happened to Sero at the Bounty homestead was very interesting and what I enjoyed most about this story. The flashback chapters to Enid's earlier life right before she becomes an investigator were interesting in fleshing out her character and explaining her past with Dak. They also gave a look at life outside of the homesteads and in the city ruins with people living outside of the order of things. I wanted a bit more of the politics and wider structure of the world but didn't mind that most everything felt very local. I also wondered how they kept an unlimited supply of intramuscular birth control this far out from the Fall especially as all their other medical supplies were more rudimentary. What I liked most about this story was that it posed questions about what's good for a civilized society versus the individual; a household versus a community; a family versus all others. Also the age old question "Who is my neighbor?" and who is worth caring about. I loved that though Sero was not in fact, Bannerless (unbeknownst to the people around him), Enid never presented that information as though it made him worthy of being cared about. He was worth being cared about because he was a person and part of a community. I also quite enjoyed Enid's relationship with Tomas.

I'd read another in Enid's world happily and definitely recommend this for fans of post-apocalyptic books.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my unbiased opinions & thoughts on the work.

Publication date: July 11, 2017

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