Book Review: The Hush by Sara Foster

About the Book:

Lainey’s friend Ellis is missing. And she’s not the only one.

In the six months since the first case of a terrifying new epidemic – when a healthy baby wouldn’t take a breath at birth – the country has been thrown into turmoil. The government has passed sweeping new laws to monitor all citizens. And several young pregnant women have vanished without trace.

As a midwife, Lainey’s mum Emma is determined to be there for those who need her. But when seventeen-year-old Lainey finds herself in trouble, this dangerous new world becomes very real. The one person who might help is Emma’s estranged mother, but reaching out to her will put them all in jeopardy.

The Hush is a new breed of near-future thriller, an unflinching look at a society close to tipping point and a story for our times, highlighting the power of female friendship through a dynamic group of women determined to triumph against the odds.

Published by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Released on 27th October 2021

My Thoughts:

The Hush is the first ‘post-pandemic’ fiction that I have read. I have no doubt there will be more novels like this to come, those that deal with our post-pandemic world against a backdrop of environmental destruction with ongoing health crises. The Hush is set in the near future, hard to pinpoint exactly when, but Covid is a thing of the not so distant past, its effects very much still informing the present. Everyone is required to wear a watch that monitors your health, reports on your well-being, location and activity, allows you to receive up to the minute government communications, whilst also telling the time and allowing you to pay for things – basically a tracking and listening device with a couple of thrown in for good measure benefits. The society we see in The Hush is what happens when measures implemented to keep people safe morph into an abuse of power at the highest level.

It’s bold to write a novel such as this right now, when many countries are still in and out of lockdown and we are rapidly converting to a society that checks in everywhere with our smartphones, where the vaccinated are bearers of a ‘Covid passport’, entitling them to more freedoms than those who aren’t vaccinated. Some might say that dystopian fiction such as The Hush has the potential to add fuel to the fire being stoked by those who don’t want to be so monitored, who are repeatedly protesting lockdowns, restrictions, vaccinations, and mandatory masks. Yet, conversely, what The Hush shows with such effectiveness is that it’s not the safety measures put in place that are the problem: it’s what those in charge of monitoring them are doing with them that is the real issue. Society in The Hush is in the grips of a mysterious medical phenomenon, healthy babies who are alive all through the birth process are still born. It appears random and is rapidly increasing in occurrence. Under the pall of this emerging crisis, society is once again plunged into panic and protest at the increasing restrictions being enforced.

I found this novel utterly gripping from start to finish. It was terrifying, to be honest, to see how rapidly a person could lose all their rights, to be so completely at the mercy of the authorities as soon as another crisis reared its head. The plot was layered with a complexity that was both clever and all too plausible. The focus on the control of women’s reproductive rights was also a timely issue to weave into this story and I also liked the sub-focus on the rights of teenagers being infringed. Not quite adults but no longer children, they were in a vulnerable place that the government was all too willing to exploit for their own gain. Sara Foster demonstrated the shocking ease with which a society can strip a woman of all her rights under the guise of ‘keeping her safe and well’. I am aware that there are many countries around the world where this scenario is not dystopian, nor fictious at all, but an all too real and present danger. There is a lot within this novel to unpack and contemplate. I thought it was excellent. A brave and bold narrative that packs a punch in all the right ways.

☕☕☕☕☕

Thanks is extended to the publisher for the review copy.

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