Ration (a bleak and terrifying feminist dystopian debut) — Cody T. Luff

August 29, 2019

Ration by Cody T. LuffTITLE: Ration
AUTHOR: Cody T. Luff
GENRE: Dystopia/Horror
PAGES: 232pg
SOURCE: Publisher

Cynthia and Imeld have always lived in the Apartments. A world where every calorie is rationed and the girls who live there are forced to weigh their own hunger against the lives of the others living in the building. It’s a world where the threat of the Wet Room and Ms. Lion always lingers, and punishments are doled out heavily both by the Women who oversee them and the other girls.

When Cynthia is wrongly accused of eating an “A” ration which leads to the death of another girl, her peers punish her harshly. In seeking revenge, she is forced from the only home she has ever known, out into the broader world with one of the Women—Ms. Glennoc—who has tormented her for years. Hunger mixes with politics, intrigue, and social status, and Cynthia needs to figure it out quickly if she’s going to survive and make it back to the Apartments to save Imeld.

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As someone who’s been reading horror and dystopian fiction for a long time, I think I’m pretty hard to surprise, but I have to say that Ration takes things to a level that even I didn’t always expect. If you’re looking for a sci-fi-heavy dystopian tale, pass on this, but if you’re looking for some end-of-world bleakness and absolute tragedy, this is the story for you.

While a lot of what happens is left to your interpretation, as Luff’s writing tends to be vague and metaphorical, it’s still clear enough to paint a rather haunting visual of the future. I think I’m pretty hard to disgust and unsettle, so I can’t say I felt like I was in danger of losing my supper or anything like that (though I believe many readers will be), but what was most frightening to me was the absolute lack of humanity in the characters of Ration. Nobody in this book is enjoyable at the end of the day, because this is a world and society so saturated in selfishness and cruelty that nobody can afford to be likable.

Ration has a lot going for it, and most of all, is an incredibly unique tale that offered up a storyline that felt brand new to me. Unfortunately, despite how much I loved the idea of this story, it wasn’t a success for me. I found the pacing odd, and due to being so unable to enjoy any of the characters, it was impossible for me to find anyone to root for (which is a personal problem of mine with books, and might not bother other readers in the slightest!). Most of all, Luff’s writing style — while unique, intriguing, and clearly talented — never quite meshed with me. This is entirely an “it’s not you, it’s me” scenario, and because of that, I still highly recommend Ration to anyone who enjoys genuinely dark, morbid dystopian tales. As it does border on the horror side of things, I’d also recommend this to any fans of post-apocalyptic or dystopian horror.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
c o n t e n t – w a r n i n g s →

murder, gratuitous violence, physical abuse, verbal abuse, cannibalism

d i v e r s i t y →

Imeld is described as having dark brown skin. Multiple characters make vague implications about being attracted to other women.

t l ; d r →

While Luff’s writing voice is beautiful and the plot is unique, the pacing was off and the characters felt one-dimensional and tremendously difficult to root for. 
Only if you are a huge fan of dystopian stories with vaguely-described but dark horror elements.


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Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

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