My dear book buddies, there are novels that really linger in our minds long after we turn the final page. THE V GIRL is one of those stories that caught my imagination with the premise, fascinated me with the narrative and then just stayed with me. It will stay with me. Because it's impossible to forget.
I am impressed by the novel that Mya Robarts has penned for all its ideas, messages, emotions and wit. I am also grateful that I could read it and review it, and then had the chance to sate my never-ending curiosity with an interview with the author. This is the kind of things that makes all the hard work a blog entails so completely worth it.
All my emotions are poured into my review here, though I've been able to read the final ending to the story a bit later. This novel keeps pulling at all my strings. Its raw emotion shines through all the grit and grim of abuse, fear and hostility of this not-too-far-from-reality kind of world. I've enjoyed getting a rewarding closure to this intensely gripping story. I cheered for Tristan and Lily, I was aghast when I thought their time would never be and I felt horrified at all the violence and cruelty depicted because it's sadly too easy to believe. I highly recommend it to anyone who craves a dystopian story for a mature audience full of plot, true emotions, action, wit and gritty romance.
The V Girl by Mya Robarts
Publication date: June 20th 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult
ROMANTIC DYSTOPIA FOR MATURE YA READERS YOUNG NA READERS
In post-apocalyptic North America, rape and sexual slavery are legal. Lila Velez, desperately wants to lose her virginity before the troops visit her town, and can take it away by force. She makes plans to seduce her only friend, Rey, the most attractive man in her town. Lila does not love him, but he is the only man who has shown her true affection, an affection she is willing to take as a substitute of love.Lila’s coping mechanism to her mother’s violent attack is her secret. A secret that will bring her closer to Aleksey Fürst, a foreign, broody man that she distrusts because his links to the troops and his rough, yet irresistible appearance. He offers Lila an alternative to her plans, a possibility that terrifies her…and tempts her in spite of herself.All the while Lila will have to find a way to live in the constant company of death, slavery, starvation, sexual abuse and the danger of losing the people she loves the most.
Due to strong language, violent scenes and sexual content,
this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.
INTERVIEW WITH MYA ROBERTS
What was the first seed that sparked the story that would become The V Girl?
I was doing research for another novel, when I came across testimonies that made my skin crawl because they described the cruel reality of mass rape. The one that disturbed me the most came from a woman whose country was invaded by several foreign armies. She was fourteen or fifteen at the time. When the Army of her own country was about to regain the control of her town, her mother made provisions so both of them could avoid rape, even though the girl didn’t think this was necessary. Mother and daughter prepared themselves for the soldiers’ arrival by shaving their heads, and the girl acted the role of a very sick girl, hoping the soldiers would spare her.
When the soldiers finally came, it turned out the mother had been right all along. Their schemes worked and the soldiers didn’t rape this girl, but they raped other girls. How did the mother know that certain precautions were needed? It was clear to me that abuses from the troops were not only known, but also expected. The fact that the mother knew that this would happen; the fact that they did not make these provisions around the soldiers of the foreign army, but around the soldiers of their own country, had an impact on my emotions. I thought, Wouldn’t the girl try to lose her virginity to a guy of her choice as part of her preparations? That was a story that deserved to be written, and I wanted to write it myself.
Did you have trouble writing any of the scenes
(the action scenes or the most emotional ones)?
Writing the action scenes is extremely hard and I’m rarely satisfied. I write them, discard them and rewrite them repeatedly. Another challenge is putting my characters through such dramatic events and situations. I’m emotionally attached to all of them, even the antagonists, and writing their suffering becomes uncomfortable. During certain scenes, their level of anguish and pain is so high that their emotions rub on me. I also had trouble writing Chapters forty-eight and forty-nine. At the same time writing those chapters was cathartic because I had a similar experience when I was ten years old. I never told anyone until I became an adult, and by writing a scene like this, I was able to have some kind of closure.
How did you manage to balance the disturbing themes with the romance
or the dystopian sense of pushing for freedom in an unjust society?
The romance wasn’t central in the earlier drafts of the book. But my readers, my editor and my own heart responded well to it, so I ended up increasing the time for the romantic storyline. I love YA dystopian books that present a romantic subplot, but more often than not I finish the book thinking: I need more romance. The first draft was brutal and violent, and there wasn’t a romantic counterpart to create balance. But I added more pages of the romantic and emotional attachments. That allowed me to develop the characters more, and to add a bit of humanity to this disturbing world. I like it better this way. I had the chance to add swoon-worthy moments and a little bit of comic relief, by presenting a love story limited by the circumstances of the war,.
How long did it take you to get the plot rounded and
what kind of message did you want to convey?
It took months to get the plot rounded. Lila’s storyline ends in The V girl, but the political context was so intricate that I’ll need more books to develop the world building and give resolution to the war storyline. The ending was extremely difficult to write because the book was going to be published in two parts, and I took out around fifty thousand words from the original draft.
I tried to convey the feeling that even under the darkest, most difficult circumstances we can allow ourselves to hope and love. No matter how dire the situation is, there’s always some level of hope. The V girl world is so bleak and at times it seems that everything is lost, but if we don’t lose our humanity, we can find the motivation to hope and love.
Did you have to do any research and what kind?
I looked “rape during war” up in Google, and found eighty-seven million results. I had plenty of material to read. Besides, I read plenty of books and saw documentaries about the topic. Mass rape is something that if you don’t see it, you don’t believe it exists and yet it has been an unfortunate occurrence since forever. I also found useful information in RAINN.org, a site for rape survivors. I dedicated the book to them.
Do you plan to write more stories based in the same world,
maybe continue the timeline?
I’m writing more books based on this world featuring different characters as we speak. Some of The V Girl characters are secondary characters in them. What I’ll write first will depend on the readers feedback. I want to know what they’d love to see in future books.
Can you see yourself as not being a writer in the future?
No. Reading and writing are part of who I am. I'll always write stories even if I decide to keep those stories to myself and never publish them.
Mya, thank you so much for this wonderful interview! :o)
Oh, my gosh, that face! Those eyes...
ABOUT THE MASTERMIND
I am a bookaholic and regret nothing.
I spent years trying to become a contemporary dance choreographer. Eventually I realized that I enjoyed writing my stories rather than creating dances for them.I am obsessed with books that present damaged characters, swoon worthy guys, controversial topics and happy endings.
Love the cape!
Good luck, book buddies. And don't forget to read this amazing book ;o)