The Blondes by Emily Schultz
Blondes may have more fun, and have the most jokes written about them, but now they are also the most feared women on earth. Scandinavia has all but fallen, outbreaks are occurring around the world and people are fleeing to Africa and India where “blondeness” is rare. Blonde women, whether natural or from a bottle, are going crazy. They act like they have rabies and bite and kill those around them and themselves. No one is sure how it is transmitted, or why it only affects those with a lack of hair pigment, but everyone knows the world will never be the same.
Hazel Hayes is our narrator, a natural redhead. Apparently one case of a redhead going mad has been documented so she is considered suspect along with peroxide blondes. Hazel has managed to find the absolute worst time in the world to become pregnant with a child she doesn’t really want by a man she can’t get in contact with because he’s married to someone else and a country away. Hazel wants to get from New York back to Toronto to decide what to do about the baby and just to get back home but this is a time of panic and quarantine. Going home is going to be really hard.
This is one of the weirder pandemic tales I’ve read. It was a little annoying not knowing how the disease worked, but the author got around it by cutting Hazel off from media in the later months of her pregnancy (and therefore the later part of the narrative). The book is told in current time (Hazel about eight months pregnant) and from the beginning of the outbreak (Hazel about a month pregnant) and eventually the two storylines become one.
The Blondes is being compared to Stephen King, but I don’t really see it. It’s probably just me but not having a plausible, or any actually, reason why this was happening really bothered me. I did like the way the author proposed that governments would handle the situation; Canada was much stricter than I would have given them credit for which makes me think fleeing north in case of a situation may not be the best solution. The other thing I really liked were the relationships made and left behind in a time of crisis, the last people you would think you could lean on are sometimes exactly who you need.