Don’t be put off by the crude sexual pun in the title. If anything, this book focuses on the way in which a young woman comes of age in terms of power, ability, maturity – it’s not really about sexuality. Nor is our heroine here a wussy fainting debutante. To the contrary, this is how she describes her own inability to walk suggestively: “Mah wouldn’t swish even if she could unlimber her spine enough to wiggle. And she’d raised me to survive on Sisyphus. So I could out-march, out-fight, or out-climb anything with fewer than eight legs. But I swished with all the grace of a drunken bug.”
If anything, the sexual exploitation here is of the men. At least the ones with 8 legs….
To set the stage without leaving spoilers, this is a coming of age story about a girl living at a prison for female Terrans on a planet controlled by sentient spider like aliens. The girl, Nikki, is the daughter of the Prison Director. The aliens have a strict matriarchal society ruled by a colony queen and a social construct in which males are used once and eaten. Literally. Ironically, since the planet is named Sisyphus, the spider-like aliens are called Sissies. But trust me – none of the women in this book are sissies! Consider Nikki’s reaction to her potential cherry picker: “Jake never moved. Angry as I was, a reluctant part of me admired his courage. The rest of me just wanted to kick his head in.” Had that chapter gone on longer, I suspect she would have!
This is a great story based on strong, pro-active young women.