Keller has grown up on Foundland, or Nomansland as it is also called. It's an island populated entirely by women, all trying to rebuilt society after a nuclear apocalypse. They live their lives governed by strict rules, always aware of the ever-present threat of mutants - and worse, men - from outside the island.
But when Keller and some other girls discover a secret place from the Time Before, full of magazines and makeup and forbidden objects like mirrors, they start to question the truth of everything they've ever learned...
First of all, I loved the worldbuilding. Honestly, it didn't sound good on the book jacket flap. It sounded cheesy. But it turned out to be unique and interesting. The dystopian society is militant about avoiding the Pitfalls: sins like Decoration, Coquetry, Reflection, and Triviality. They dismiss beauty as weakness and relationships as full of flaws. Although that's not exactly a new concept, in Nomansland it was done in a new way. I did have a few issues with the story, but overall I thought it was an interesting read.
I will say the plot was a little lacking - in that there isn't really much of a plot for the first half of the book. It does pick up a little in time for a good finish, but overall it wasn't exactly action-packed or thrilling.
And I'm a little confused why these girls, upon discovering a house essentially full of treasures, decide to hold a beauty pageant and play dress-up. I get that they've lived hard lives without beauty so they're excited about this new perspective and blah blah blah but really, if you're raised as a warrior from a young age you don't just melt into a puddle of overly feminine goo the first time you see makeup. You should be a little tougher than that. So I really didn't understand that part.
Oh, and the reproductive system on the island? A little icky.
I liked Keller, who I thought was both strong and interesting to read about. I really like Ms. Windsor, the somewhat-tyrannical leader. She was an interesting mix of psychotic and rationally intelligent. At one point, she describes her rise to power, which was fascinating, and really gave her some unexpected depth.
Most of the side characters, though, I just didn't get. I don't even know what to write here... I just didn't get them.
Aside from the world building, the writing didn't appeal to me all that much. It wasn't actually flawed or anything, I think it's just an issue of personal preference.
(I apologize if this review is a little contradictory and confusing; it was a complex book and I still have mixed feelings about many parts of it.)
End Result: three stars. A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.