Athena's Choice Review - Would You Live in an All-Women Society?
by Adam Boostrom
Published in 2019
I was approached via Instagram (@MrsJBookConfessions) to read and review a new book that was published in 2019, Athena’s Choice. I had no idea what to expect as sometimes these can be hit and miss but this was one of the most original and interesting books I have been sent all year! In a future society when all men have been killed off, what would a world look like that was run by women for women? Founding Mothers instead of Founding Fathers?
Athena’s Choice is set in the year 2089 in an all-women society. In the 21st century, due to extreme global warming, the oceans have risen to cover coastal land which caused all the people formerly living there to move inland, which caused it to become extremely crowded. This caused tension and extreme violence among communities which made the government try and look for a solution to create peace. They created a disease - also known as Y-Fever - which was supposed to kill off “bad people” but ended up killing off all the men (and a few women) throughout the planet until they went extinct in 2051. No matter the research, they couldn’t find a cure as the disease was engineered to be extremely lethal and resistant to treatment. They also couldn’t bring men back as all women are carriers of the disease, so they decided instead to let women have more female babies and live in an all women society.
We follow Athena, who keeps having dreams of this broken down building and a dream of a man, as she tries to understand what it is she keeps seeing in her dream. She is placed under arrest by officials for stealing the Lazarus Genome (the cure to the Y-Fever) and is questioned, even though she is innocent. The AI Hangar Core requests to see Athena and tell her that she will have to make a choice that will have major ramifications for all. Athena decides to help the officials with the investigation into who stole the Lazarus Genome while she continues having strange dreams about “Original Sin” and men. The Captain starts to suspect that this could be an inside job as there were bypasses in the security and encryption that are best accessed from people who are familiar with the system.
The Captain and Athena go to question the two doctors (Grace & Eve) who were working on the Lazarus Genome to see if either of them had reason for this disappearance. They both deny involvement but also don’t seem to be worried that the Genome is missing when information surfaces that the contract for the two doctors to find a cure is expiring and the “disappearance” at this time seems suspicious. Athena continues looking for the “Original Sin” book she saw in her dream which leads her to a library in Colorado. She finds that the book is actually by Grace that included statistics that all men were capable of violence and rape and accounted for most of the “bad people” in society. This shows that the disease did do its purpose to kill all bad people because it was engineered to kill all men even though they didn’t know that when they originally gave approval. There was no Lazarus Genome and men were able to live among society all along, they just didn’t want them to. They give Athena three choices before they end the book as she is the only one who knows the truth:Bring the men back to society.Don’t bring men back and let some of the women be disappointed.Don’t bring men back and remove women’s desire for men to live in an all-women safe society.
Final Rating & Thoughts: 9/10
This was such an interesting and thought-provoking book! At first, I thought Athena's Choice was going to be a very anti-men kind of book but what I found to be most interesting was it was instead based on whether the probability of danger should be enough to eradicate a group of people. It is so easy to believe that if there is a system that said a group of people are dangerous, get rid of them to create safety for others. But in this system, it said all men were capable of some kind of evil tendency IF given the opportunity, even if they hadn’t actually done anything yet. This book leaves you with many questions that really makes you ponder, what did they define as “evil”? What kind of measurements did they use to determine these results? How could the men who voted on this not have noticed that this was suspicious? Instead of the questions being something that distracts the reader, it encourages the reader to continue reading to discover the truth.
I think what this also shows about society as a whole is how easy it is to fall into a society and community that can become complacent and not ask questions. It is also interesting to see this futuristic society of only women with women feeling much safer and free to do their own thing. This is not to say that women dream of a society where men don’t exist but instead says a lot about even now women constantly feel afraid for their safety because of the history of men (even just a small group) being so dangerous and violent towards women. Even though this book is just a science-fiction novel, it is meant to be something that really makes you think of what society is like today.
I highly recommend this book to all because it was just a book that really made me have to think. On a story level, Athena could be any of us and she is a relatable and curious character that is easy to root for. I also think the way they set up the story to lead to this insane twist at the end was done so well as it only shared whatever information was relevant for that time before moving along the story. By the end of the book, I still can’t decide what Athena should choose with the information she learned and I know it is going to be such a tough decision for her to make. If you learned all that you did, what would your choice be?