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B The EXXtinction by Santiago Mantilla

B The EXXtinction by Santiago MantillaB The EXXtinction by Santiago Mantilla is a dystopian science fiction novel proposing the provocative question: what would happen if men go extinct? Despotic ruler Queen Estevez starts a civil war to exterminate the male population. What she didn’t count on is how many males and females are bonded together, and don’t want to join her crusade. Noah and his daughter, Talayeh, find themselves in the middle of the rebellion, and the subtitle of the novel is brought to light: “The Only Hope for Man Is a Woman.”

As in many dystopian fantasies, there’s a kernal of truth to what Santiago is proposing: given the high incarceration rate of men, as well as the fact that girls test better than boys in reading, math and science, Mantilla’s premise is at the very least plausible, making it more gripping and effective.

One of the concerns with a book like this is if it is an anti-feminist screed, a sort of anti-Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, and thankfully that is not the case. Though there is inevitably some flavor of anti-feminism (“After women gained equality in all areas of American life, things tilted in a very different direction.”) it is not a political screed saying: this is what will happen if we give feminists too much power. It’s more of a what if scenario that celebrates both masculinity and femininity, and the bonds we all share. It’s a tough balance for Mantilla, but he pulls it off. A thought-provoking and well-written work of speculative fiction.