Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh (NetGalley Review)

2/5 stars

Choice governs our lives, whether we like it or not–and no choice invites more controversy or debate than a woman’s choice to have children. But what if that choice was made for you?

Sophie Mackintosh’s Blue Ticket is set in a world where girls, upon puberty, draw ‘tickets’ to determine their futures–white tickets are allowed to become wives and mothers, while blue tickets live a child-free life, through the help of an IUD insertion. The unnamed state enforces these fates, but the main character, Calla, starts to feel that maybe the life of ‘freedom’ she was assigned was the wrong one for her. With little knowledge of her own body and what could await her if she had lived the life of a ‘white ticket’ instead, Calla craves more.

I was intrigued by this premise, but this fell quite flat for me. I probably should’ve known better as I struggled to get through Mackintosh’s previous novel The Water Cure and abandoned it after a few plodding chapters. Sometimes the Booker Longlist makes no sense to me! I’m a big believer in second chances, but this ain’t it, chief. Blue Ticket’s world is poorly built, with unclear structures and no real conflict beyond Calla’s own questionable decisions–she removes her IUD herself and pursues a pregnancy on her own terms, which feels less empowering and more malicious, getting pregnant without her partner’s knowledge and in a society where this puts her and her child in immediate danger. There are a lot of platitudes on how Calla’s life as a ‘blue ticket’ can feel just as constricted as the women who draw ‘white tickets’, but these come across as hollow.

Mackintosh’s writing is atmospheric, which is nice to read but doesn’t drive the plot at all–I which I had something nicer and/or more profound to say about this, but Blue Ticket was a book that felt like it was trying to say something important and just couldn’t find the right words to do it. I suspect it would resonate more with readers who have experienced pregnancy and/or motherhood, so maybe I’ll just chalk this one up to a cultural gap.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. You can learn more about Net Galley here.


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