Bitches Book Club Review :: Bitch Planet

The Book Club:

“At the end of May I was feeling sort of “meh” about the Goodreads book clubs I’m part of. No offence meant to them at all! I like them. But they’re just so BIG that the books I’m particularly interested in don’t often (read: ever?) get picked and there doesn’t feel like there’s enough incentive to take part sometimes. I wanted something that was smaller so, even if I’m not super jazzed about every single book, I feel motivated to read each one because I knew the other member(s) of the book club are reading too and because of the discussion that will ensue.

SO, of course, I voice messaged Claire about it and we decided on a book within the hour!

How it works is that one of us will pick the book one month and the other will pick the book for the next month.”

This month was Nikki’s choice: Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick

As a warning: This review has cursing, and I mean, if you couldn’t tell by the title of the book and blog, if you don’t like cursing, I’d skip this one?

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Book: Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Publisher: Image Comics, 2015
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fiction, Feminist, Sci-fi

Summary: In lieu of the not-particularly-descriptive summary provided by Image Comics or Goodreads, I (Nicole) shall improvise!
The world has gone to pot and now it’s PATRIARCHY TO THE MAX! (Yes. Even worse than it is now.) Women can be sent away for the smallest of offences such as not being attractive to their partner any more, talking back to a man, and even a misplaced eye roll might land you in trouble. And where do these offending women get sent? None other than Bitch Planet! But make no mistake, the abuses do not stop once the non-compliants (as they’re called) are ushered off-world to this prison planet and all sorts of shenanigans are always cropping up, the newest of which is the famed sporting event, Duemila–otherwise known as MEGATON. “Are you WOMAN enough to survive?”
More Information: GoodReads

Claire’s Thoughts & Rating:

So apparently I am accused of being “late” with my reviews (I say this to tease Nicole who sent me the most hilarious text threatening me to get this review in a couple of days  ahead of time, rather than like… a few hours). That being said, I think everyone should read Nicole’s description of this month’s pick because not only is it apt, it’s downright hilarious.

I just sent this voice note to Nicole as well: “We just reviewed a book called Bitch Planet and the blog is called Bitches with Books, the fuck I just realise this?!”

But where do I start? I never know what to write for reviews, I can’t ever make them sound smart and I don’t want to dissect it into its different parts. I will say this: I enjoyed it. I really enjoyed it. At first I didn’t get it, I was a bit confused about this world and how women could be so disposable, how the smallest infraction or sight of independence, or even showing that you have a brain and (1) not caring about what you evc’d (the novel’s words, not mine but I think you get the gist) or (2) how compliant you are could land you in jail. And this isn’t any old jail by the way, it’s a separate planet, it is a whole separate entity that is filled with women, their exploitative guards and monitors. There is also a weird hologram that is is supposed to epitomise chastity and everything womanlike but she’s wearing a bustier and teeny panties. How the patriarchy managed to pull that one off, I have no idea.

Oh didn’t I explain? that’s the whole gist of the book, the patriarchy has taken over and in a very big way. Wanton obesity is a crime. Let that sink in. To make this review sound like sense, I will say that I enjoyed the art and the book’ style. It is done in a vintage “exploitation” style I think with great vintage comic looking chapter headers. The text is dynamic and fast-paced, you feel like you have to keep up with it, like there is a part of it you’re not seeing but you’re searching for it. You want it. I’d really like to read the second volume.

What got me the most about this novel is I’d be right in that jail. I’d be a Bitch Planet inmate, and I’d get the crap kicked out of me by the guards. I’m mouthy and especially mouthy to full-of-themselves men. I’ve grown up in a place where I’ve had men (in front of me mind) tell my father he needs to tame me better and he’s had to hold me back or plead with me to keep quite for just a few moments. Yes, so I’d be a “good candidate” for Bitch Planet. I also want to have a quick rant because everything that isn’t “perfect” is really a qualifying factor for Bitch Planet- so being just being born mixed and/or dating someone outside my ethnicity, I’d go to jail (both of which I am so naturally guilty of). Come on. Oh, OH! Also, they haven’t mentioned it but I’m pretty sure being queer is illegal in that world and I’d get sent to jail pretty darn quickly for that alone. This world is a dystopian hell-hole.

Man, the patriarchy, they’re everywhere.

So, I’m a bit embarrassed to show this to be honest because it’s pure junk that I did on powerpoint, and Nicole never asked me to do it but I really liked this novel, I was super inspired. They did these great vignettes in the graphic novel that show the inmates’ profiles… and I thought, well why not do my own? What I found interesting was that they ALWAYS had the weight for the inmates so I shared mine (I’m not one of those who is shy or embarrassed by their size).

Bitch Planet 113445

Rating: ★★★★★

Claire’s Favorite Line:

“When they play MARRY/FUCK/KILL, you’ll never be KILL again!”  

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Nikki’s Thoughts & Rating:

I thought it would be fun to shake up the format and make a break from novels and the like by jumping into a really graphic novel which also dispenses social commentary in a fun, super accessible way. And, by the sound of it, it seemed like one both Claire and I might really enjoy. So let’s hop to it!

I really loved the diversity in this book and the satire and the gall and the truths. The little extras are so on point from humorous background scenes in some of the panels to the tongue-in-cheek ads. The way the artwork mimics comics of yesteryear (with the use of halftones and a screenprint-like, slightly off colour register despite this all being done by computer) is ironic and fitting because you’d expect the patriarchal problems to which the women in this future world are subjected to be a thing of the past too, but it’s not. It’s an emphasised, completely candid and unapologetic version of what is happening right now. It’s sad, but it’s also a powerful call-to-action.

At first it was a liiittle difficult to see how things fitted together and how the world runs. I can see how it might seem a smidge(!) slow in parts for some (though I think that’s just to do with standard first-book-setup stuff), but if you just have trust it and follow along, things are revealed. The beginning has a really great set up for the whole book where, without spoiling anything, a woman is sent to Bitch Planet, but all is not as it seems…This, to me, is a much more on point, authentic, ‘lived-it’-feeling feminist graphic novel than some of the other popular ones I’ve seen come out recently. And then the shift from who you think is going to be the focus, is really great. The discussion guide at the back is also a nice addition.

But, as Claire says, I don’t want to just sit here and dissect all the fun out of it, because it’s better just enjoyed. Claire’s review is super spot-on with the excitement and feel of everything! The camaraderie of the inmates can really be felt, but it isn’t a given from the outset. The prison provides both an “everyone for herself” environment as well as a “we’re all victims of the same unjust system” atmosphere which gives a cautious rallying air and that hopeful, badass momentum is super exciting to follow. And, on that note, one of my favourite scenes, simple though it is, is “Meiko’s Proposal” (and, incidentally, Meiko, ended up being one of my favourite characters).
And then the end! UGH!

This was a really good, engaging, funny first book and I’m super interested to see where this series goes and I would definitely recommend it to others!

Like Claire, I know I’d also be right there on Bitch Planet for multiple offences, the worst of which might be my uncontrollable urge to mouth-off in the face of injustice (and/or stupidity) and talk about the things nobody else wants to talk about (but should!). I can’t even express how much I love Claire’s NC vignette :’) SO I thought I’d have a go at making one too.

NCnicole

(And, honestly, once you start, the offences could go on forever if you think about it haha! If anybody makes one for themselves, make sure to show us!)

Rating: ★★★★★

Nikki’s favourite line(s):

BP-Spirit-Finger

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Have you read this book yet?

If you have, what did you think? If you haven’t, do you want to?

March’s Book Club choice is Claire’s and she chose…

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Feel free to read along with us! 🙂

NameNikkixClaire

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5 Responses to Bitches Book Club Review :: Bitch Planet

  1. Pingback: Claire x Nikki Review February 2016 | Bitches With Books

  2. moosha23 says:

    Ah, this review was SPECTACULAR. When I saw that y’all were doing this book for this month I was very happy. I mean BITCHES WITH BOOKS reviewing BITCH PLANET. That’s insane. This book was flippin’ made for you guys.

    It also sounds incredibly fun to read (I’m still keeping my eyes peeled for Herland) and I love the whole idea of it. 😀

    • Claire (BWB) says:

      THANK YOUUU, I am so ashamed that I didn’t get the connection till I was writing the review and messaged Nicole, who let out a huge laugh at my expense- apparantly it was part of her design? But me in my cluelessness, had no idea haha. It’s such fun, it’s so worth it!! I’m totally invested in this series and want more.

  3. Arvis says:

    Awesome reviews! I’m definitely going to try and get a copy 🙂
    I’m looking forward to visiting this space often and seeing all of the other interesting book reviews and suggestions. Good stuff ladies!!

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