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Death & Desire in the Age of Women

Death & Desire in the Age of Women - Michael Louis Calvillo Michael Louis Calvillo came up with an absolutely killer premise in this novel. He was great at writing these high concept novels. The premise of the novel is that all women in the world of appropriate age menstruate all on the same day. They begin having dreams and visions of the Worm. This creates a big ruckus but nothing comes of it until nine months later when all at once the females around the world turn on the male population and try to kill them off. A biological change has come about them and whenever they see a male, they become enraged and want to kill them in the most violent way possible, regardless of their relationship.

The story itself centers on the Mendoza family. On the day of the change, Claudia, the mother, initially tries to protect her four-year-old son, Victor Jr. That changes when her twin daughters arrive at home and together they not only kill Little Victor, but do so by tearing him apart and eating him. Knowing that she can’t control herself, she takes her two daughters and leaves before her husband, Victor, arrives. Fast forward two years later, and Claudia and the girls are living in a compound. Women have taken control of the world and have imprisoned the men. Victor, who had been part of a resistance movement, finds himself arrested and goes to a prison near the compound. A female resistance movement grows and they try to use Claudia to test out a new protective suit that will allow her to be with her husband without feeling the need to tear him apart after they bust Victor out of prison. Things go horribly awry in the process.

Besides the cool high concept, the novel delivers in many other ways. The writing is really strong, something that I can appreciate as a fellow writer. The novel hits the write nerves. Claudia is the main character, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for her after she devours her own child, even though it wasn’t her fault and it was triggered by this Worm that has infiltrated all women. Victor, on the other hand, comes off as a much more heroic and sympathetic figure, transforming himself from a guy who works a nine to five to support his family to a warrior. The book doesn’t provide an explanation of how the Worm came into existence or how it infiltrates the female population or how the women are able to telepathically communicate with each other. An explanation would have served well. I also found a hard time believing that the women would have been able to take over society so easily. Granted, they had been plotting this attack for nine months and they certainly would have taken the men by surprise, but at the same time, without being sexist but just trying to be realistic, men are physically stronger, and have far greater numbers in areas such as law enforcement and the military including access to more weapons, etc. I also would have liked a happier ending. In all, this was a very enjoyable read that I would recommend.

Carl Alves – author of Reconquest: Mother Earth