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  • Writer's pictureMandy McHugh

Blue Ticket, Sophie Mackintosh: A Review

5 HUGE STARS. The Water Cure is a highly underrated work, in my humble opinion. I rarely hear people discussing its merits, but it's hard to accomplish the stomach-turning unease and visceral response that Mackintosh was able to do. When I saw Blue Ticket was available, I immediately requested and moved it to the top of my TBR.

In a society where women of age take place in a lottery to determine their futures, Calla feels like there may have been some mistake. She is a blue ticket, a woman of the work force and night life, chosen to be among the ranks of white ticket women, those who don't bear children. She's fine with this until a darkness begins to consume her, and she takes agency into her own hands. I can see this taking literary ranks with some of the great dystopian classics. Social roles are dictated by a ticket. Emissaries guard borders and check points. There's a pervasive fear of the unknown. What happens to women who disobey? Who break from the norm and make the choice to betray their tickets? No one has a clear answer, and it is this fear that helps maintain the status quo. Punishment, of some sort is assumed, but women who leave their roles are never heard from again. Blue Ticket is not so much about overcoming the system, but questioning the philosophical construct of choice. Unlike female-led narratives in this genre, Calla doesn't want a revolution. She's not challenging the system to make a point. She's not looking for large-scale justification or even acceptance. She just knows that her body's demand to have a child can no longer be ignored. Even in her quest, she wonders if the system made a mistake, if she is misinterpreting her feelings, or if what she's doing is right. The moral implications are endless, and the internal conflict, while quiet, was emotionally wrought and moving. I couldn't stop reading this. I was less interested in the possible twist and outcome than I was with Calla's journey, her introspection, and her observations about women. This is probably what I loved most of all about Blue Ticket. Despite the fictional backdrop, the circumstances the female characters face are very much present in today's society. The belief that others can dictate a woman's choices, take away her say in what happens to her body--that's here, that's now. There's also how women treat each other. She judges other blue tickets and her own by their wardrobes and lifestyles, their habits. She judges white tickets for their stereotypical family life and suburban aesthetics. *brief spoilers* In the remote environment, these critical behaviors become even more apparent, pitting the women against each other instead of reinforcing their unity. "All in this together" is both one hundred percent true and one hundred percent false simultaneously. Mackintosh's writing is elegant and lyrical, but her critiques are resonant. I found myself rereading passages because I had such a WOW reaction. This is the kind of book that will stick to your bones, shake your core, and dig roots in your heart. 11/10 will reread. Big, big thanks to NetGalley and Doubleday for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration. Blue Ticket is a must-read for 2020 and a re-read forever after that. Its quiet beauty is one you won't want to miss.


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