Summary and book reviews of The Blondes by Emily Schultz

The Blondes

by Emily Schultz

The Blondes by Emily Schultz X
The Blondes by Emily Schultz
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2015, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2016, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kate Braithwaite
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About this Book

Book Summary

A hilarious and whipsmart novel where an epidemic of a rabies-like disease is carried only by blonde women, all of whom must go to great lengths to conceal their blondness.

The Blondes is a hilarious and whipsmart novel where an epidemic of a rabies-like disease is carried only by blonde women, all of whom must go to great lengths to conceal their blondness.

Hazel Hayes is a grad student living in New York City. As the novel opens, she learns she is pregnant (from an affair with her married professor) at an apocalyptically bad time: random but deadly attacks on passers-by, all by blonde women, are terrorizing New Yorkers. Soon it becomes clear that the attacks are symptoms of a strange illness that is transforming blondes - whether CEOs, flight attendants, students or accountants - into rabid killers.

Emily Schultz's beautifully realized novel is a mix of satire, thriller, and serious literary work. With echoes of Blindness and The Handmaid's Tale amplified by a biting satiric wit, The Blondes is at once an examination of the complex relationships between women, and a merciless but giddily enjoyable portrait of what happens in a world where beauty is—literally—deadly.

ONE

WOMEN HAVE STUPID DREAMS. We laud each other only to tear each other down. We are not like men; men shake hands with hate between them all the time and have public arguments that are an obvious jostling for power and position. They compete for dominance-if not over money, then over mating. They know this, each and every one. But women are civilized animals. We have something to prove, too, but we'll swirl our anger with straws in the bottom of our drinks and suck it up, leaving behind a lipstick stain. We'll comment on your hair or your dress only to land a backhanded compliment, make you feel pathetic and poor, too fat or too thin, too young or too old, unsophisticated, unqualified, unwanted. For women, power comes by subtle degrees. I could write a thesis on such women-and I nearly did.

Don't get me wrong. I am one of them too. I've had stupid dreams, and you yourself are the result.

You: strange seven pounds of other.

Here you are, under my hand, swimming in blood, about the size of...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What do you think the author meant with the opening sentence of the book?
  2. Did the book make you think about your hair or relationship to beauty, feelings about your hair and identity, rituals surrounding it?
  3. Why do you think the author chose "blonde" for a disease affecting women? What did you make of the science of the disease?
  4. There are many types of lies in the book - lies the characters tell each other, lies they tell themselves. For example, Hazel often says she's not going to continue to talk to her unborn child about an event, but then she does. Larissa, in particular, tells many lies. Grace keeps important information away ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Much of the enjoyment of this novel is derived from the way author Emily Schultz charts the reaction of the world to a virus that, to many, only becomes ‘real’ when a celebrity falls victim to it. She is playful with the media’s attempts to understand and name the illness.   (Reviewed by Kate Braithwaite).

Full Review (624 words).

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Media Reviews

The Toronto Star
Emily Schultz gives new meaning to the term 'femme fatale' in her apocalyptic, darkly satirical new novel... A gripping and unsettling story...It's a scarily realistic state of affairs.

Publishers Weekly
Like dry, brittle, over-peroxided hair, Hazel’s story might look attractive at a casual glance, but up close, those nasty dark roots destroy all the comfortable illusions

Booklist
Starred Review. Suspenseful, ferociously clever, exceedingly well written, poignant and hilarious.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A nail-biter that is equal parts suspense, science fiction, and a funny, dark sendup of the stranglehold of gender.

Author Blurb Peter Orner, author of Last Car Over the Sagamore Bridge, and The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
An energetic, startling novel. Emily Schultz is a writer with a deadly sense of humor.

Author Blurb Stephen King
Emily Schultz is my new hero.

Author Blurb Helene Wecker, author of The Golem and the Jinni
Like the literary love child of Naomi Wolf and Stephen King...the result is a spellbinding brew, both satirical and deeply satisfying.

Author Blurb Ben Lorry, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day
Sharp and fluid and legitamately disturbing. A thinking person's nailbiter.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Pandemics

Logo for Pandemic StudiosPandemics – global outbreaks of disease across countries and continents – have been a feature of human history for centuries: as inexplicable and frightening as the contagion in Emily Shultz's novel The Blondes, where women with blonde hair are turned into crazed maniacs. While The Blondes is clearly satirical and we shouldn't expect an exclusively blonde virus to attack us anytime soon, the way her world reacts to the virus rings true to the reactions we have seen to recent viruses such as Ebola and Swine Flu. Here, for your edification, is a whistle-stop tour through some of the world's worst pandemics:

The Bubonic Plague
In the 14th century, it is estimated that the Bubonic Plague killed approximately 75 million people. ...

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