Kinderen van Moeder Aarde
(cover art by Jan Wesseling)
Synopsis (English translation below)*
Zes eeuwen na de Derde Wereldoorlog. De aarde is door een kernoorlog gekanteld en bijna verwoest. Het ijs op het vroegere Groenland, nu Thule geheten, is gesmolten en het land heeft een heerlijk klimaat. Het land wordt door vrouwen geregeerd, zonder leger, zonder wapens. Christian is het enige kind van de Konega van Thule die samen met de Vrouwenraad Thule bestuurt. Op een dag ontmoet hij Thura, een gewoon meisje, dochter van een bouwer van vissersschepen en in opleiding op de zeevaartschool, en hij kan haar maar niet vergeten.
Dan verschijnt er een onbekend schip in de fjord. Het komt uit het Badense Rijk; de opvarenden hebben als enige doel Thule veroveren, zoals ze al met heel Europa hebben gedaan. Wanneer ze erachter komen dat het land geen wapens heeft en geregeerd wordt door vrouwen, zijn ze ervan overtuigd dat dit niet moeilijk zal zijn. Maar de Badeners stuiten op onverwachte tegenstand, waarbij Christian and Thura een belangrijke rol spelen.
Six centuries after the Third World War. The earth’s axis has changed due to a nuclear war that has also almost destroyed the earth. The ice on what used to be Greenland, now Thule, has melted and the country has a lovely climate. The country is ruled by women, without an army, without weapons. Christian is the only child of the Konega of Thule who rules Thule together with the Women’s Council. One day, he meets Thura, a regular girl, daughter of a builder of fishing ships and training at the seafarers’ school, and he cannot forget about her.
Then, a unknown ship appears in the fjord. It comes from the Baden’s Empire; the only goal of the people aboard is to conquer Thule, like they’ve done already with all of Europe. When the find out that the country has no weapons and is ruled by women, they’re convinced it cannot be very difficult. But, the Badens encounter unexpected resistance, whereby Christan and Thura play an important part.
It was refreshing to finally read a YA dystopian where men weren’t the ones still in charge. Sure, some of them might have a couple of women that are somewhere up the ladder as well, mostly though men are in charge. In this book however, women are in charge, because men were the ones the screw up the world in the first place. It’s a nice change therefore, to read something like this.
This immediately also makes it quite different from all the other dystopians where everything is usually violent and terrible things are going on, which causes the uprisings. In this case though, everything really does seem perfect, except for that tiny fact that men have no say in anything.
The world building in this book is great. Firstly, the book plays on Greenland; I’ve never read anything about that before. Everything that happened was due to a nuclear war, which seems plausible enough. On top of that, other people also survived and we find out about them. I find this lacking a lot in other books. In those, no one else in the entire world seems to be alive anymore, which is very strange. Here, the people in Thule have contact with people from Canada and Iceland, they know about the barbaric Mericans (yep, those from the USA) and know that elsewhere in the world others most likely survived as well. This is supported when those from Europe come over.
I also really enjoyed the fact that the people from Thule decided to really take care of nature this time around and preserve most of the world around them. Sometimes even forgoing technology because it could have a negative impact on nature (e.g paved roads, electricity).
Of course, this wouldn’t be a dystopian without something being wrong. There is, men in this world don’t have a say in anything. They’re treated well enough, but always have to do what the women tell them. This doesn’t sit well with all of them, though they don’t respond with violence. Instead the son of the Konega (a type of Queen) eventually shows the women men are valuable and should have a say in what goes on in the country.
There is also a great legal system in place, based on shame and guilt instead of incarceration. It’s all explained in the book, and I thought it was amazing!
If you speak Dutch, or know how to read it, do pick up this book, it’s a refreshing take on dystopians (even though it was written before most of the other ones). Also, for my German readers, this book has been translated to German: Kinder der Mutter Erde.