Book Review: I Who Have Never Known Men

I’ll not lie, the cover drew me in.

Book Title: I Who Have Never Known Men

Author: Jacqueline Harpman

Series: Standalone

Genre: Translated, Adult Fiction, Sci-fi/Dystopian

Publisher: Seven Stories Press, Avon Eos

Page Count: 200

Notes: translated from the French in 1995. TW for death of a loved one, suicide, and starvation

Goodreads Summary:


‘A small miracle’ The New York Times

‘For a very long time, the days went by, each just like the day before, then I began to think, and everything changed’

Deep underground, thirty-nine women live imprisoned in a cage. Watched over by guards, the women have no memory of how they got there, no notion of time, and only vague recollection of their lives before.

As the burn of electric light merges day into night and numberless years pass, a young girl – the fortieth prisoner – sits alone and outcast in the corner. Soon she will show herself to be the key to the others’ escape and survival in the strange world that awaits them above ground.

My thoughts:

What a heavy punch to the gut this was! I’m still recovering!

My Review:

Mesmerizing. Haunting. Deeply thought provoking. And a touch infuriating that there are not always answers in life. A masterpiece of trauma, intrigue, and the desperate urge to survive on a (potential) hostile world.*

I Who Have Never Known Men is a fascinating look at what happens when a society crumbles after all the men have gone, and left the women who were prisoners free to do as they wished. It’s a look at humanity and hope and survival of the fittest. For 200 pages there’s a lot to unpack here and I’m sure my review isn’t going to bring it justice. I read this after seeing the cover above (my copy is different) and I was immediately “yes, that’s the book to read right now” and I finished it in less than two hours.

The writing, the tension, and the pacing are all brilliant. A few other reviewers on Goodreads have said that it’s a bit slow to start and I agree. It does take a few pages to grip you. But once it does you want to find out what happened. Why were they imprisoned? Who were those guards?

Does it answer everything? No. Does it have a happy ending? Again no. But this is such a powerful read in the same similar light if on a very different scope as The Handmaid’s Tale that I didn’t care about the unhappy ending. I just was impressed by the authors writing ability. She truly is a damn good writer.

I can’t say more without revealing the plot and all but I will say that this is a hugely important read I wished more people would read. I’m clearly giving this a glorious 5 stars.

Please read this. Seriously. Read it.

*= on my Goodreads review

My Rating:


Until next time,

-Pass Me That Book


Author: passmethatbook

I am a book blogger, where I talk about my favorite reads, new books I've found, or anything related to reading. I am currently accepting ARCs in the genres: Science Fiction, YA, Fantasy, Romance, Historical, and Mystery. I am open for anything, though religious based books are generally not something that I would read, unless a friend/someone I know asks me to. Feel free to email me for questions!

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