The Blondes by Emily SchultzThe Blondes by Emily Schultz

The Blondes

byEmily Schultz

Hardcover | August 14, 2012

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A breakout novel for a young writer whose last book was shortlisted for the Trillium Prize alongside Anne Michaels and Margaret Atwood, and whom the Toronto Star called a "force of nature."
 
Hazel Hayes is a grad student living in New York City. As the novel opens, she learns she is pregnant (from an affair with her married professor) at an apocalyptically bad time: random but deadly attacks on passers-by, all by blonde women, are terrorizing New Yorkers. Soon it becomes clear that the attacks are symptoms of a strange illness that is transforming blondes--whether CEOs, flight attendants, skateboarders or accountants--into rabid killers. 
 
Hazel, vulnerable because of her pregnancy, decides to flee the city--but finds that the epidemic has spread and that the world outside New York is even stranger than she imagined. She sets out on a trip across a paralyzed America to find the one woman--perhaps blonde, perhaps not--who might be able to help her. Emily Schultz's beautifully realized novel is a mix of satire, thriller, and serious literary work. With echoes of Blindness and The Handmaid's Tale amplified by a biting satiric wit, The Blondes is at once an examination of the complex relationships between women, and a merciless but giddily enjoyable portrait of what happens in a world where beauty is--literally--deadly.
EMILY SCHULTZ's first book, Black Coffee Night, was a finalist for the Danuta Gleed Award, while her second, Joyland, received rave reviews. Her most recent novel, Heaven is Small, was a finalist for the 2010 Trillium Award alongside Margaret Atwood, Alice Munro, Ian Brown, and Anne Michaels. Her criticism has appeared in The Globe and...
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Title:The BlondesFormat:HardcoverDimensions:400 pages, 8.54 × 5.75 × 1.44 inPublished:August 14, 2012Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385671059

ISBN - 13:9780385671057

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from ...couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I picked up this book because someone compared the author to Margaret Atwood. I didn't think the comparison would hold true. I was wrong. Emily Schultz managed to take a ridiculous concept - an unknown virus that causes blonde women (natural or artificial) to go insane and kill people - and turn it into an incredibly intriguing (and oddly believable) story with one of the most authentic and relatable protagonists I've come across in quite a while. Much like Margaret Atwood, Schultz has a gift for describing a journey that's so compelling, you forget to care about the destination. Her writing is fantastic - witty and clever - and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
Date published: 2017-03-31
Rated 2 out of 5 by from All right Weird and interesting concept, not worked out that well
Date published: 2013-10-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Similar mood and style to Margerat Atwood The Good Stuff This one truly reminded me of some of Margerat Atwood's earlier books. To me it had a similar mood and writing style to Atwood's The Handmaids Tale (one of my favorite books). Hazel even reminded me of times of Offred. Smiled when Hazel referred to her fetus as different little pet names as she not only learns to accept her child but learns to love it. As a Canadian, obviously enjoyed all of the Canadian references enjoy the developing relationship between Hazel and Grace The jumping back from past to present was a wee bit hard to get into at first but it works - gives you little bites to keep you hooked and wanting to find out more about what is going on Main aspect of story being women's powers being stripped away by men in charge, as a reaction to a "plague' (in the guise of the protecting the rest of the population) Darkly funny I'm a brunette - so you can imagine the appeal of the premise Would be perfect for a book club discussion. Would lead to fascinating discussions about beauty, friendships, feminism - just to name a few Dystopian (speculative fiction) - I am always a sucker for this genre. Please don't be put off by my opinion of this novel. The author is gifted, it really is just me in this case. I think I was expecting something different and this effected my enjoyment of the story. The Not So Good Stuff I was extremely frustrated with Hazel (The character Grace so eloquently mentions in the story, that Hazel is " is a bit of a dumb s**t") and I personally had a hard time feeling empathy for her. For someone so educated, I expected more from her. Felt more at times like a social commentary than a story - not really a bad thing, but personally I enjoy more story (Yes, I know I am sure this makes me somewhat a less intelligent woman - but I really don't care - this is who I am and I won't apologize for it) So in other words, if you are more intelligent than I (which not to be self deprecating or anything - but that would be most of you ) you will love this. Could not understand why she fell for her professor - nothing intriguing about him and quite frankly I found him to be repulsive Ok, picky picky on this one. Scientifically I don't understand how natural and peroxide blondes could both be affected, it just didn't make sense. Favorite Quotes/Passages "God, how we all wanted to work at Canadian Broadcasting Corporation! It was practically upper-middle-class welfare." "I joked that I thought there might be protestors, and Kovacs told me that it was no joke, we were lucky. This wasn't Canada where maniacs were polite." "She was one of those glass-half-full types, and I would've been ready to choke her at the end of the eight weeks, if someone else hadn't tried." "I thought about my own Mom going through that fatigue, and the nausea, every second of every day for months for me, and how I never knew that and never respected her - and I wished now that I had. I wished I could take back every mean thing I'd ever retorted, every time I rolled my eyes, or didn't listen." 3 Dewey's I borrowed this from our backroom where staff drop off their ARC's that they are done with
Date published: 2013-08-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh Interesting premise...well done it un satisfying
Date published: 2013-04-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A quirky read reminiscent of Margaret Atwood When I first heard about The Blondes, it sounded quirky, and dark, and exciting and kind of strange and they compared it to The Handmaid’s Tale. It sounded amazing! It sounded like exactly the kind of book I love and it was. It was a unique and incredibly thought provoking read, and while I recognize that it may not be for everyone, I can’t stop singing its praises. The Blondes is the story of one, Hazel Hayes. Pregnant and alone with her married professor’s baby, she finds herself in the midst of an outbreak unlike anything the world has ever seen before. But what I found really interesting, was even though the story was technically about her, and she was the narrator, it was also about women in general. There was a lot I could relate to, and I lot that gave me pause to think about how women are perceived in society and how they perceive themselves. Though the description of The Blondes mentions its similarities to The Handmaid’s Tale it was actually another Margaret Atwood novel that came to mind while I was reading. The Edible Woman. I thought these two books shared the same quirky writing style, using distinctive narrative voices and some odd metaphors, to communicate a lot of their ideas and themes. And I think that what I took away from both books was roughly the same. I thought it was interesting the way Hazel Hayes was shaped by the people and events around her, and how she felt about that. I loved the way Emily Schultz approached the idea of pregnancy and what it means to be a mother (or what we’re supposed to think it means) and most of all I loved how The Blondes looks at beauty. What it is, why it’s important and the violence of it all. I think this book is ripe for discussion and interpretation and I think no two people will read it exactly the same. Most of all I liked the character of Hazel. She’s in no way a perfect person. She had an affair, she’s kind of a complainer, she’s head-strong and stubborn. The list goes on. But the reason I like her is because she is so flawed. She’s interesting to read about and her story is compelling. And like her or not, you want to know what happens to her. She’s a character that made me curious and after I was finished reading I often found myself wondering what happened to her. I love when I book keeps me thinking and dreaming long after I’ve turned the last page. One word of warning, however, be prepared to suspend your disbelief. Though Schultz gives some explanation of how the disease (a.k.a Blond Fury) in The Blondes comes about, it still seemed really far-fetched. A tiny voice in the back of my head kept nagging me that this would never be possible. My advice for you is to ignore that voice. You’ll enjoy the novel so much more without it. Recommendation: Highly recommended for fans of Margaret Atwood and literary book clubs. It’s a quirky book though, so be prepared for some unusual reading. This and other reviews at More Than Just Magic (http://morethanjustmagic.org)
Date published: 2012-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Intriguing story set in NYC & Toronto where blondes go killer-crazy Hazel has moved to New York City to work on her thesis when she finds out that she's pregnant with a married man's baby. The affair with her professor/thesis advisor is made more dire when a string of bizarre attacks start happening worldwide. The strange disease seems to be affecting women with blonde hair and turns them into vicious killers. Hazel must struggle to find her way home to Toronto and wrestle with the dilemma of whether to tell the father about her pregnancy. After having just finished reading James Patterson's Zoo where animals go crazy and attack everyone, I don't know if I was prepared to read a book where blonde women go crazy and attack everyone. Even from the book jacket premise, I wasn't sure what to expect withThe Blondes and Schultz's novel proved to be a mix of heartfelt emotion, traumatic experiences and edge-of-your-seat paranoia. I hadn't realized when I started it that the novel was set in New York City and Toronto, which was a pleasant surprise. Told in the voice of Hazel speaking to her unborn child, the narrative jumps frequently between the present, recent past and even further past. This was a nice way to break up the story and keep the pace going & discovery of facts timed right but I found it a bit jarring at times, to figure out what point Hazel's life this particular moment was at and how it related to everything else in that moment. I also felt that what Hazel was saying didn't always seem particularly appropriate to be telling her child, unborn or not. Perhaps Hazel doesn't find it bizarre telling her baby about the details of her and the father's relations but I found it a bit disturbing and inappropriate. While I felt the ending left things a bit unresolved, I enjoyed the overall journey of getting there. Schultz establishes some great characters with very real and believable personalities given the scenarios and circumstances they find themselves in. I also loved that Hazel's thesis and major was on aesthetics, and the idea of aesthetics become such a big factor in the story - the paranoia, judgement and treatment of those with a certain look about them. This, and other reviews can be found on my blog JustALilLost.com
Date published: 2012-10-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Attack from the weilder of the peroxide bottle Full disclosure: I heard Emily Schultz speak at the Kingston Writersfest last weekend and connected to something in her live reading. Skimming the program at the beginning of the Writersfest, this book did not stand out to me in particular. I happened to be present at one of Schultz's rehearsals and then made it into a session where she was discussing paralleling themes between her novel The Blondes, with Melanie Dugan's book Dead Beautiful. The insight I gleaned here likely biased me toward an optimistic read; when I went to the bookstore, I was so attracted to the book cover (as mentioned by a previous reviewer here). I just loved holding the book. Also, Schultz penned "Stay beautiful!" with her autograph and I know I felt my criticism soften when reading the book because of such a positive impression of the author. This is my first read by Schultz, although now I scan her other titles I am way more likely to pick them up. I don't usually read something so light in humor. The jacket says the author spends her time between the big Apple and southwestern Ontario so it makes sense the book takes place in all of these places, allowing the setting to ring very true. I judge this book based on my assumption that the story of The Blondes is meant to be a satire on humanity's response to fear - and in this case fear is triggered by an infectious disease outbreak. The wit and subtlety are layered on by the fact the disease is a rabies mutation that affects blonde females in particular. I mentioned the humor is light, but don't expect to be laughing or feeling light-hearted. The tone of the protagonist (the story is told in first person) is very dry and she is critical of other people, ill or well, and other times sympathetic; this outsider classification is represented perhaps by her naturally red hair. No one, including herself, knows where she falls e.g. susceptible or immune category. There are scenes in the book that ring eerily true to reality. Seeing the last pandemic was the Spanish flu in 1913, scientists are currently expecting the natural cycle to come full circle but fell short with SARS, West Nile, Avian Bird flu, etc... So really, the Blonde Plague or a virus like it is not too far from expected. Knowing that responses by characters in the book are familiar to ones we see in the news today, it does in a funny way make me scared to think what arbitrary disease or next-wave pandemic will divide us and which side will I be on? The side making the policies and tough-calls for the sake of public health? The activists speaking out for individual lives? The parent doing everything to protect their family? Turning against all beings until scientists discover the mechanism and incubation period and find a cure... including your own pets / friends / neighbors? Hoarding resources? One scene that just stuck with me was where a person was behaving oddly, but people were unsure whether to respond with compassion or aggression. Since the symptoms of the virus are all behavioral, women with PMS or having a bad day could be suspected. In this case, Hazel observed the oddly behaving stranger likely had mental illness -- common among Toronto's homeless population. I like this book, although the topic familiar in the sci-fi movies like Contagion (2011), has some fresh approaches. Also, to add more of a twist Hazel looking for an abortion during this whole outbreak - and she races against time to have the choice. I really like this book. I know the plot is not straightforward, and the story's voice is from a young woman, awkward on her best day, but I find the details clever. Listening to Schultz speak about her book, she was able to come up with the story after experiencing pregnancy herself. Likewise I do find there are instances that depend on the reader to draw on his/her experiential memories to understand the nuances of the emotions and plot. Especially during attack scenes, I felt I was falling behind - not able to keep up with the pace; perhaps saving us the details was meant to save inappropriate gore. Schultz said she herself identified very little with Hazel - the protagonist. I found it interesting she said that. I don't identify with Hazel but her outsider perspective is very strong. Not having many friends. Although studying the made-believe subject on the appearance of things for her PhD, she doesn't seem to have a grasp of how she appears. This is repeatedly brought to us by the fact she loses her glasses, chooses not to wear them, they get scratched, and broken... other times tears clouding her vision. Maybe I like that puzzle the reader must accept, having discern events from Hazel's muddled recollections to get the true perspective.
Date published: 2012-10-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not What I Was Hoping For More reviews at: www.eyesonthepages.blogspot.ca When I read the premise for The Blondes, I expected it to be a somewhat funny book. Instead, I got the complete opposite of that. The tone for the whole book was serious and all I could think of through the whole thing was, "Someone is actually taking this plot seriously? Okaaaay." Which, therefore set the tone for me and caused me to give this book to Dull Eyed review. Because of the difference between what I was expecting from this book and what I got from it are two completely different polar opposites, it made it really hard for me to get into the book and took me forever to read. Now, I'm not saying that this book is bad in anyway, and it did somehow get more interesting towards the end of the book, but as I said, I just had a hard time getting into it. I will admit, I first entered the contest on Goodreads because of the cover of this book. I mean, I've never seen anything like it with all of those hair sample colours and it just looked so... cool. Let me tell you, that will probably be the first and last time I ever pick up a book based on it's cover. I found the pacing of this book to be really slow and almost unbearable at points. Nothing really intrigued me or had me dying to turn the next page.... And the chapters were just so long! I don't know about you guys, but I hate long chapters (Anything over 10 pages I consider long chapters). I find that short chapters in a book make me feel like I accomplish more and also help me to continue reading a book late at night. The story is told in first person by Hazel to her un-born child, re-accounting memories from just before the Blonde Plague took over up to when she finally has the child. The book almost seemed like an auto-biography of her life (which I guess it was), with stories that kind of jumped from one time frame to another. I believe at one point their were three or so different time-line stories occurring. All in all, I didn't really enjoy this book because my expectations were so botched that it just kind of ruined the book for me. If I had different expectations, I'm sure I would have enjoyed this book much more than I had.
Date published: 2012-07-26

Editorial Reviews

Trillium Award Finalist - 2013An NPR Best Book of 2015"An engaging, satirical study of our beauty-obsessed society and the idea that looks really can kill." —Chatelaine "[Schultz] creates a clever, idea-layered landscape of speculative fiction in which she can deposit a very real, complex, somewhat self-absorbed yet ultimately sympathetic character, one who just by looking, feeling and responding to events both extraordinary and banal, speaks to myriad perceptions of women both real and invented." —National Post "Corrosively humorous commentary on social, sexual and cross-border politics." —Toronto Star"Sensitive and contemplative. . . . unnerving and sometimes comically macabre. . . . Schultz uses this worldwide calamity to . . . reflect on our tangled definitions of beauty and the life-altering responsibilities of motherhood. . . . A heroine who's also a feminist critic of pop culture is our perfect guide." ―The Washington Post"Part hysterical dystopia, part coming-of-age story and devastatingly moving throughout . . . So finely realized that you might just rethink summer highlights forever." —Fashion Magazine"The story weaves together elements of suspense and satire, with an academic overlay of critical cultural theory, but at its essence it is a fast-paced, unpretentious read. A wash-and-wear cut, if you will. . . . Ultimately, The Blondes is streaked with honest sentiment and a surprisingly feel-good ending: dark enough to have weight, light enough to read at the beach." —The Globe and Mail“[A] smart new literary thriller. . . . A nail-biter that is equal parts suspense, science fiction, and a funny, dark sendup of the stranglehold of gender.” ―Kirkus Reviews, starred reviewFrom the Trade Paperback edition.