The Blondes

The Blondes

eBook - 2012
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A breakout novel for a young writer whose last book was shortlisted for the Trillium Prize alongside Anne Michaels and Margaret Atwood, and whom the Toronto Star called a "force of nature."
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, skateboarders or accountants--into rabid killers.nbsp;
Hazel, vulnerable because of her pregnancy, decides to flee the city--but finds that the epidemic has spread and that the world outside New York is even stranger than she imagined. She sets out on a trip across a paralyzed America to find the one woman--perhaps blonde, perhaps not--who might be able to help her. 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.
Publisher: Toronto : Doubleday Canada, 2012
ISBN: 9780385671064
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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laurendouglass Jan 30, 2019

I was filling up a display shelf when I first noticed this book; it has a very distinctive cover. After picking it up I noticed that both Stephen King and Margaret Atwood had recommended it and at that point I was pretty much sold.

Now that I have finished the book, The Blondes by Emily Schultz, I can't say I completely agree with King and Atwood but I can see why they agreed to allow their endorsements to be placed on the front cover.  The story grabs you very quickly with intriguing lines like "The neighbours have finished burning the hair."  I mean, how can you not want to know more about that?  Schultz also gives one of the most accurate descriptions of early pregnancy that I have ever encountered in fiction, and uses the main protagonist's malaise and indecision to perfectly capture the mood of the beginning of the possible apocalypse.

Ultimately, Schultz can't quite decide if she is writing a literary character study or an piece of apocalyptic fiction where who lives and dies is dependent on gender and class.  Margaret Atwood covered this territory much better in The Handmaid's Tale but this is still an intriguing read.

sit_walk Jan 03, 2017

I loved this book! It's a fast-paced, smart and darkly witty story. Good plague scenario but the emphasis is really on the relationships among the women that litter this story. It's one of the few books in recent memory that I found hard to put down. Great book! (One of the readers below commented that this is not a good book for male readers. I disagree. As a male reader I found The Blondes insightful and intriguing. Very much reminiscent of some of Margaret Atwood's speculative writing.)

The blurb might make you think it is a horror/suspense novel, but it doesn't fit into either of those genres. It is more an exploration of a young woman dealing with an unplanned the middle of a bizarre pandemic of "hair-borne illness" that affects blondes. The narrator (who is actually a redhead) speaks directly to her unborn child as she recounts everything that has happened. While there are tense moments, the pandemic is never fully explained, the author tries too hard to zing our consumer culture, and the ending feels more like a tired yawn than a resolution. No wonder the only comment from Margaret Atwood was "wow".

karcoldelharvic5 Dec 12, 2015

The blurb on inside front cover claims "hilarious and whipsmart. I read 32 pages and it took me a couple hours because there was no hilarity. I found it slow and dull. After re reading several pages I just decided it was not worth my time.

Oct 30, 2015

I was provided an Advance Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When a pandemic of rabies-like disease hits the world that affects only blonde women, Hazel Hayes doesn't know what to do. She's got reddish hair, but the CDC isn't sure if only blondes are being affected. It doesn't help the situation that she is alone in New York and just found out she's pregnant by her thesis sponsor. She has to find a way to stay safe (pandemic-wise and baby-wise) -- needs to get out of the city and back home to Canada.

"The Blondes" was a very vividly-written story. I found myself worrying about the outbreak after putting down the book -- looking around, trying to spot the blondes around me and planning my escape route. The narrative skips around from the past to the present, but it isn't ever confusing. Hazel is telling the story to her yet-unborn daughter from a deserted cabin. She meets some new friends and finds some old ones along the way, all of them scrambling to just get by in the new panicked world. Terrifying, harrowing, and impossible to put down.

Mar 25, 2013

This was an Angus Glen book club title for 2013. There were mixed reviews about this book. The main character, Hazel, was not strong as a likeable relatable character. This is not a good title for the male reader. The references to Toronto and Northern Ontario were good.

StratfordLibrary Nov 12, 2012

Pause and ask yourself, how do you feel about blondes? For the five days it took me to read The Blondes, by Emily Schultz, I looked at every blonde with one part fear and one part anger for the mayhem they were causing (in the fictitious world I inhabited between book pages). Weaving a lively tale of end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it chaos and deeply human emotional struggles, Schultz entertains and delights readers with her novel that defies CanLit stereotypes.
The so-called heroine of the novel, Hazel Hayes, finds she is pregnant by her married professor and, as a first-person narrator, tells her story to her unborn child. Almost simultaneously, the ‘Blonde Fury’ begins infecting true and fake blondes all over the world causing irrational and dangerous acts of self and public harm.
Confused in this semi-apocalyptical environment, Hazel attempts to migrate from her current locale in New York City to her hometown in Toronto and then to Northern Ontario, resulting in a complicated and suspenseful adventure.
You can read the novel in many ways; blondes gone wild, prochoice versus prolife, action-thriller, authors against blondes, etc.
Some critics have chosen to focus on the woman-to-woman relationships and the genderization portrayed throughout the writing. In an interview with The Star, Schultz says she was inspired by a Gucci advertisement in Vanity Fair showcasing blonde models that “looked like a gang of absolutely murderous women.”
Her sense of humour is evident in the text as well and I was caught many times giggling quietly to myself. Quill and Quire call The Blondes an “exploration of physical beauty and its effects on women.” It sure left a lasting impression on me, a content brunette.

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