The Hush

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Pub Date 27 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 27 Oct 2021

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Description

Everything can change in a heartbeat ... The pulse-pounding new thriller from the bestselling author of You Don't Know Me

'The novel everyone will be talking about' Natasha Lester


Lainey's friend Ellis is missing. And she's not the only one.

In the six months since the first case of a terrifying new epidemic - when a healthy baby wouldn't take a breath at birth - the country has been thrown into turmoil. The government has passed sweeping new laws to monitor all citizens. And several young pregnant women have vanished without trace.

As a midwife, Lainey's mum Emma is determined to be there for those who need her. But when seventeen-year-old Lainey finds herself in trouble, this dangerous new world becomes very real. The one person who might help is Emma's estranged mother, but reaching out to her will put them all in jeopardy ...

The Hush is a new breed of near-future thriller, an unflinching look at a society close to tipping point and a story for our times, highlighting the power of female friendship through a dynamic group of women determined to triumph against the odds.

'Smart and considered, this is the book I wish I had written. Sara Foster is one of my favourite writers.' Dervla McTiernan

'Magnificent. Writer envy. Foster is changing the game.' Nikki Gemmell

'Brilliantly imagined and superbly told, this story reaches out and grabs you right from the outset. It's impossible to put down, not just because of the gripping plot but because the three women at the centre of the book wind themselves around your heart as they struggle to comprehend the increasingly frightening world they're living in. This is the novel everyone will be talking about this year.' Natasha Lester

'Right from the first page, Foster had me gripped. The Hush will be the thriller of the year' Meredith Jaffe

'Highly original and thought-provoking, The Hush is a compelling page-turner' Anna Downes

'Terrifyingly plausible - and utterly compelling' Wendy James

'A terrifying premise, compelling characters and a plot that had me racing to finish' Kayte Nunn

Everything can change in a heartbeat ... The pulse-pounding new thriller from the bestselling author of You Don't Know Me

'The novel everyone will be talking about' Natasha Lester


Lainey's friend...


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ISBN 9781460760376
PRICE A$29.99 (AUD)

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Featured Reviews

I can already tell that The Hush by Sara Foster is going to be an instant bestseller. It is a brilliantly told depiction of motherhood, rebellion and sisterhood. I flew through reading it because I could not put it down and was completely absorbed by the story. The Hush is set in the not-too-distant future in a world teetering on a knife’s edge between normality and the descent into dystopia. Medical professionals grapple with finding a cure for whatever is causing countless babies to be stillborn. The government has ramped up its hold on the British people, monitoring everything that the population does. Teenage mothers are going missing. And 17-year-old Lainey had just discovered that she is pregnant. The world that Sara Foster has created is deeply unsettling. This is one of those books where you can see that our own world has every potential to end up like the dystopian future in the book. The technology that she described, while terrifying, is not so different to what we’ve already allowed into our lives (I’m looking at you, Google Home and Apple Watch). What made this book a 5-star read for me were the characters. They read as authentic and full of spirit - brave Lainey, feisty Sereena and nurturing Emma were my favourites. If I have one criticism, it would be the constant references to “since Covid”. I would have preferred the author to reference an unnamed pandemic and let the reader infer that it’s Covid-19, rather than repeatedly drawing the reader’s attention to the exact timing of the novel’s setting in our future. It was just a little grating for my taste. That aside, I would still highly recommend this book. If you liked The Push by Ashley Audrain or Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, this will be up your street. 5 ⭐️

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This is a book you will still be thinking about days after you turn the last page. I found it a tad slow to start (but that also may be as I was reading on the Netgalley app. My first experience using the app, which I found a slightly frustrating... I lost my place a few times when I moved to the next page, and it turned several pages instead, or even when I bumped it accidently.) Once I got into the story I couldn't put it down. The two main characters, mother and daughter Emma and Lainey, are both believable. Sadly, so is the plot line, with watches tracking their every move, and the government putting restrictions in place that isn't always for their benefit. Is it dystopian? Sci-Fi? or even the near distant future? The Hush has The Handmaids Tale vibes, with a slight YA feel. I highly recommend.

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“Every day she hears a new theory, but nothing fits. This one feels primal, beyond human control.” “The Hush” is a dystopian thriller, set some years after the impact of COVID-19, a few years into the future. It is an interesting plot, with plausible twists and turns that could emanate from our current predicaments. In particular, young pregnant women are disappearing in a time where all citizens are being monitored, and babies are being born, refusing to breathe and dying. We meet Lainey, a teenager who discovers she is pregnant, her mum Emma, dog Fergus and three little birds she rescues and feeds like ‘mama bird’. There is a lot of maternal energy through the book – including a strained relationship with Emma’s mother Geraldine, and Emma’s occupation as a midwife. So many connections to having children, caring for children and the resilience that flows from generation to generation. Even the strengths in the relationships between Lainey and Serena (her best friend) and to the other women that come to the rescue and work to infiltrate the horrors that are emerging through the oppressive government systems. The value of human connection is strong, and the strength among women is even stronger. The world that Lainey is living in as a teenager is not for the faint hearted – everyone was a monitoring watch. In a way, one could relate it to the power many wield in their fit bits and apple watches – you are always connected to “the system” but you don’t realise it – this book brings that connection to the forefront, almost too late to do anything about it. A little confronting to read in lockdown, but one that opens your eyes to a future that could be possible.

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Wow i loved this. I love dystopian books and Handmaids Tale is on of my favourites so this was right up my alley. I found this story very thought provoking and with a group of characters that you will care for this one is well worth a read.

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Wow! What a ride! Yes I know it's in the thriller category but this book had me on the edge of my seat the whole way. It took me 3 days to read it and if I didn't have to work it would have been less. The characters are so realistic you feel you would recognise them in the street. It's certainly a tale for our times as set a few years post Covid. Some characters are instantly likeable with others, not so much. I will be seeking out more books by this author and hoping they are all up to this standard. If you love a good thriller, this one's for you.

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I could not put this book down as I needed to know more. Sarah Foster is an author to watch. She is now one of my favourites.

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Wow what a book! This is a thriller set after Covid times, which makes it even more believable that things that happen in the story could actually happen in real life. Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book.

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Engrossingly disturbiing. The Hush is the type of fiction which is so closely aligned with this could really happen that it was a relief to be able to finally put it down with a feeling of satisfaction and 'perhaps the good guys will win.' Well done Sara Foster. The characters are believable and they have real-life feelings and emotions which sometimes aren't as clear in a thriller setting. I loved Geraldine ... she had me thinking of parallels to another Australian feminist. The idea of the rise of patriarchal control in an induced state of emergency is something I think we all fear and would stand up like Emma and Lainey to not only be counted but force them to count us. Recommended.

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Set in a near future, post-covid Britain, still recovering from the social and economic effects of the virus, but also dealing with rising sea levels and floods caused by climate change. Post pandemic, the government has gradually mandated several new laws in the interests of community health and safety and now everyone is required to wear a smart watch. Initially the watches were to monitor peoples’ health and well-being, but now they are capable of monitoring their location, track their spending and even record their conversations. The country is also grappling with a new emergency as a sharp increase in stillbirths is being reported. Babies are being born at term, after a healthy pregnancy but never take a breath. Scientists are racing to find out what is wrong with these babies and expectant mothers are being closely monitored to see if a cause can be found. When pregnant teenage girls start disappearing, there are rumblings on social media of a government conspiracy. Emma is a midwife in a London maternity hospital, at the front line of the new epidemic of stillborn babies sweeping the country. When her teenage daughter, Lainey becomes pregnant Emma knows she will do whatever it takes to keep her safe. This is a scary dystopian world with shades of 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale, where politicians have gradually gained coercive control post-pandemic over the population in the name of community health and are now seeking to take control of women’s pregnancies and childbirth. The novel is populated with strong female characters who are not prepared to sit back and let this happen. Lainey herself is courageous and resilient and is fortunate to be surrounded by strong women in her mother and their friends as well as her fiercly feminist grandmother, who are all prepared to fight for her and to discover why pregnant teens are being taken and uncover the mystery surrounding the stillbirths. It makes for a gripping plot in a thoughtful and thought-provoking novel.

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The Hush is the first Sara Foster book I have read and if this is an indication of her writing then I will definitely be looking up her backlist. The story is set in London 7 years post COVID. Emma is a single mum with daughter Lainey. Emma is a midwife at the local hospital where disturbing things are happening. Quite randomly some babies are appearing stillborn, and no one knows why. At the same time young pregnant girls are disappearing with their families. This is now an era where everyone has to wear tracking watches and there are rules and regulations from the Government as to where you can and can't go. It seems most people can live within these rules but then the unthinkable happens, Lainey becomes pregnant! What a fast paced thriller this was from start to finish, and I was totally invested in the story and the characters. Does make you wonder what our lives post-COVID may be, and I applaud the author for setting this book in the 7 years after COVID with such imagination that I hope will not come true! 5 stars from me. Thank you to Harper Collins and Net Galley for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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‘The babies demonstrate no signs of pain, and no will to stay in the world.’ Six months ago, in a post pandemic UK, a healthy newborn baby is stillborn. The first of many: close to 1 in 3 pregnancies is ending in stillbirth. Why? Expectant mothers are being closely monitored to see if a cause can be identified. This is another challenge for the UK, still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and grappling with floods and rising sea levels because of climate change. The government’s response to these issues is to restrict individual freedoms. Citizens are required to wear smart watches, initially to monitor their health and wellbeing during the pandemic, but now the watches monitor an individual’s location, track their spending, and can record their conversations. All of this is supported by new laws passed by the government. And now young pregnant women are going missing. What is happening? Emma is a midwife, trying to do her best in these difficult circumstances. She’s a single parent: her daughter Lainey is 17. And when Lainey finds herself pregnant, both women are in danger. Emma’s estranged mother Geraldine may be able to help but contacting her has its own risks. Conspiracy theories abound and social unrest increases. The parents of the missing women are unable, unwilling, or afraid to speak out. And the stillbirths continue. This is a fast-paced dystopian thriller in which a few heroic women work together to try to uncover the truth. Aspects of this novel are uncomfortably plausible in our current pandemic world, and Ms Foster brings her story to life through well-developed very human characters. An uncomfortable, engrossing and thought-provoking read. Note: My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes. Jennifer Cameron-Smith

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Well titled fiction book The Hush, based in the near future regarding a new epidemic hitting England just a few years after Covid-19’s epidemic still in peoples minds. Travelling anywhere via buses or trains to work and school to which students, parents, teachers and workers line up at checkpoints as futuristic robots take their temperature and health checks to ensure they are healthy to enter their workplace and schools. Everyone is required to wear a special watch that keeps a check on their health. A new terrifying epidemic is increasing as it’s taking the lives of babies some are born healthy, stillborn and other’s not long after birth. This is on the minds of pregnant and birthing mothers, Emma a midwife is seeking answers for the epidemic just as young pregnant teenagers are going missing along with her pregnant teenage daughter Lainey. Certainly a page turner full of twists and turns keeping the reader on the edge of their seat wondering what is going to happen next. I noticed a slight cliffhanger ending which leaves a reader with unanswered questions and wanting to know what happens next to the young teenagers. Recommended for anyone who loves to read futuristic stories about epidemic, mysterious books. Review run date 11 October 2021 on Netgalley. On 27 October 2021 review will be posted on Facebook blog, Amazon.com.au, goodreads, Barnes and Noble, kobo, googlebooks and iBooks. I received a complimentary copy of this book from HarperCollins Publishers Australia via NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. #TheHush #NetGalley

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"If this scenario was created by the government, where do we turn for protection?" The Hush is a haunting near future dystopian thriller that hits uncomfortably close to home. In this post-COVID, climate change besieged Britain, a new crisis has emerged - drastically rising stillbirth levels that seem to have no cause. The result is increasingly invasive controls, especially of women - everyone must wear a special watch, you can't buy a pregnancy test without doing it on the premises and submitting your details, and now teenage girls are going missing... The story focuses on Lainey, a teenage girl, and her mother Emma, a midwife, as they navigate this increasingly terrifying new reality, which is set to converge on them irrevocably... Reading this book felt like driving past a car accident - the cloyingly compelling feeling of being increasingly uncomfortable and yet unable to look away. And I mean that in a good way, as testament to the close-hitting claustrophobia and desperation evoked, of a world gone topsy turvy and a population become complacent to the increasing controls placed over their lives. After all, if it's the government that's the problem, where can you turn? "The system that supports you can also be used to control you, Emma. Don't ever forget that, will you." Eerily, I was hallway through this book when an article appeared in my newsfeed about women in England being reported to social services if they didn't want to engage with postnatal "support services". In fact, I attended an author talk with Foster, where she spoke on the fact that she took pains to only use technologies and laws that either already exist somewhere in the world, or at least their precursors do. The terrifying thing about this book is how it feels both wild and yet not so far from possibility. It certainly doesn't feel as far fetched as it would have three years ago. At the talk, the author also mentioned how her academic research had focused on the absent mother in YA dystopian fiction. She described her desire to write a story where generations of mothers were present for their daughters. I think this background knowledge adds another level of appreciation for this story - Emma is a very present, caring mother who would do anything for her daughter, and about halfway through, Emma's own absentee mother re-enters her life and becomes part of her story too. The nesting dolls on the cover of this book carry multilayered significance. The Hush perfectly captures the suffocating distress of feeling increasingly controlled by forces that feel too big to tackle and not knowing how to regain the reins of your own freedom. But it's also about the women who refuse to sit down and take it. It also happens to be a compelling thriller that takes a wild turn in the final third and became increasingly hard to put down. I found this to be an incredibly well written book that moves beyond the thriller genre into compelling social commentary.

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Wow, what thrill ride with a great catchy title. I read this book in one weekend. Once I was introduced to Lainey and Emma I could not wait to find out how they would navigate their lives in a dystopian post-covid Britain. I was left thinking about this book for days afterwards. This was my first Sara Foster book and I’ll be looking through her back catalogue.

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Can I just start by saying this is NOT a book you want to read when your eldest daughter is going through labour with her first baby and you are miles away and cannot contact her! Had I read the blurb again I would have waited. Anyway its all good now, mum and bub are well, but this book put me through the shredder. Still it was great to have another EXCITING book hot on the heels of the previous exciting book. I thought this was really well written. The pace was perfect and it got more dramatic as we closer to the end. Set in the near future it’s a slightly dystopian story about government overreach, the quest for power, a mad scientist, cover-ups and all sorts of corruption. Sounds like business as usual! It’s 7 years post COVID and the climate crisis has deepened and caused widespread flooding around the world. The UK is, however, also facing a threat of a different kind. Babies are are increasingly being stillborn. Yikes! At first it was about one in five cases which soon increased to one in three. Expecting mothers are increasingly nervous and citizens are being increasingly surveilled to supposedly ‘ensure their safety’ but it feels increasingly Orwellian. This is the scenario in which we meet Laniey, a 17 year old high school student. She and her best friend Sereena plan to steal a pregnancy test from a pharmacy because Lainey suspects she is pregnant but there are rumours of teenage pregnant girls going missing and she’s scared. Her mum Emma works at the local hospital as a midwife and the work is increasingly getting her down. The infant deaths are demoralising. Of course Lainey is pregnant and you will be shocked at how far the authorities go to control all this. It is quite frightening - all the more so as it is also quite plausible. This creeping incrementalism of government control creeps up on you until you suddenly realise you have little control over your own life. While the government overreach is breathtaking it’s also quite concerning to compare what happens in the book to what is going on in some parts of the world, including democracies. Well, Lainey and Emma and friends and family and underground resistance fight back. But the result is by no means guaranteed and there are casualties along the way. I don’t want to say any more about the plot but this was very smart writing with just the right mix of fiction, suspense and plausibility. I really enjoyed the book, although I was much happier after finally speaking to my daughter. Many thanks to Sara Foster via Netgalley for the much appreciated arc which I reviewed voluntarily and honestly. 4.5 stars rounded up.

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Set in the near future this is a thriller that reflects a tendency to authoritarianism in governments in response to a crisis (with particularly sinister reasons here!). The crisis here is at birth, babies are dying before taking a breath and the numbers are increasing. The main characters are Emma, a midwife and her teenage daughter, Lainey. Everybody is monitored by a special watch for ID, payments, security, health checks etc. The story builds slowly establishing the characters and their friends and circumstances. From about half way through I really got into it and found it hard to put down. Missing young pregnant women, conspiracies, crackdown on protests, women’s rights disappearing, lots of issues and ideas to think about. A great read.

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I was thoroughly invested in the intrigue within this book and I recommend it. Set around 7 years into a future Britain and the after-effects of Covid-19, the story revolves mainly on a schoolgirl, her mother and grandmother, as well as the government. I finished it two days ago (thanks to NetGalley) and it is to be published early November 2021 so keep a note of it for sure! The author Sara Foster was born and raised in the UK and moved to Western Australia in 2004 with her husband and young daughters. She is currently studying for her PhD, looking at maternal representation in fiction with young adult heroines. I look forward to reading her backlist. This very morning I I was totally shocked on news of the assassination of a 69 year old English MP David Amess. My sympathy to his family, friends and colleagues.

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I found this book too close for comfort! It was a very realistic look at what our world could be like in the not too distant future, and was a bit unsettling. However, it was a good read, and held my attention throughout. I liked the characters, and the plot twists and turns were well done. Although it was a satisfying ending, I sincerely hope this book is not prophetic!

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The Hush is the first ‘post-pandemic’ fiction that I have read. I have no doubt there will be more novels like this to come, those that deal with our post-pandemic world against a backdrop of environmental destruction with ongoing health crises. The Hush is set in the near future, hard to pinpoint exactly when, but Covid is a thing of the not so distant past, its effects very much still informing the present. Everyone is required to wear a watch that monitors your health, reports on your well-being, location and activity, allows you to receive up to the minute government communications, whilst also telling the time and allowing you to pay for things – basically a tracking and listening device with a couple of thrown in for good measure benefits. The society we see in The Hush is what happens when measures implemented to keep people safe morph into an abuse of power at the highest level. It’s bold to write a novel such as this right now, when many countries are still in and out of lockdown and we are rapidly converting to a society that checks in everywhere with our smartphones, where the vaccinated are bearers of a ‘Covid passport’, entitling them to more freedoms than those who aren’t vaccinated. Some might say that dystopian fiction such as The Hush has the potential to add fuel to the fire being stoked by those who don’t want to be so monitored, who are repeatedly protesting lockdowns, restrictions, vaccinations, and mandatory masks. Yet, conversely, what The Hush shows with such effectiveness is that it’s not the safety measures put in place that are the problem: it’s what those in charge of monitoring them are doing with them that is the real issue. Society in The Hush is in the grips of a mysterious medical phenomenon, healthy babies who are alive all through the birth process are still born. It appears random and is rapidly increasing in occurrence. Under the pall of this emerging crisis, society is once again plunged into panic and protest at the increasing restrictions being enforced. I found this novel utterly gripping from start to finish. It was terrifying, to be honest, to see how rapidly a person could lose all their rights, to be so completely at the mercy of the authorities as soon as another crisis reared its head. The plot was layered with a complexity that was both clever and all too plausible. The focus on the control of women’s reproductive rights was also a timely issue to weave into this story and I also liked the sub-focus on the rights of teenagers being infringed. Not quite adults but no longer children, they were in a vulnerable place that the government was all too willing to exploit for their own gain. Sara Foster demonstrated the shocking ease with which a society can strip a woman of all her rights under the guise of ‘keeping her safe and well’. I am aware that there are many countries around the world where this scenario is not dystopian, nor fictious at all, but an all too real and present danger. There is a lot within this novel to unpack and contemplate. I thought it was excellent. A brave and bold narrative that packs a punch in all the right ways. Thanks is extended to the publisher for the review copy.

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The Hush by Sara Foster is gives us a glimpse of a future that seems eerily possible given the pandemic raging around the world. In the not too distant future, the world is still feeling the effects of the global Covid pandemic. But now a new epidemic is emerging - babies are being born fully healthy but never taking their first breath. Fear is raging through the population as our most vulnerable are dying for no reason. The government has stepped in and has passed new laws that closely monitor pregnant women and young girls who become pregnant are vanishing without trace. Lainey's friend Ellis is one of the teens that has gone missing. Lainey's mum Emma is a midwife at a large hospital who is determined to be there for the women in her care but is finding herself more and more removed from her daughter's life. When Lainey also finds herself pregnant, Emma must take drastic measures to ensure her safety and make sure that Lainey is not the next girl to go missing. This book is a real page=turner and seems scarily possible. We are all finding our lives changed and living in a world of new restrictions, and it is not too much of a stretch to think that there will be unexpected health issues that emerge in the near future that will again turn the world upside-down. This highly recommended thriller is part dystopian, part mystery and part commentary on government corruption and abuse of power. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins Australia for the advance readers copy of this book.

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This is a fantastic book and really considering the times we are all living in a must read. Set in a post Covid world where government infringements of our freedom are out of control and women's reproductive rights are once again being manipulated and threatened. This is a well paced thriller set in a world that is really not that hard to imagine. The books is well written and the emotions and the tension palpable. You will have no trouble believing it is reall. he female leads in this book are smart, fearless and extremely likeable. This books is as much about female friendship and the strength and wisdom women bring to the table as it anything else. The book gives us a satisfying conclusion but Foster has left the door open for a follow-up novel I for one and hoping that we get that novel sooner rather than later. In a flashback to the Handmaids tale there is underlining theme in this book that it would do us all well to remember. It is the small losses of freedom that we ignore that lead us to a real loss of freedom that once gone is really really hard to get back. This book really is a must read for every woman out there and frankly every man as well. Thanks to Netgalley the author and the publisher for a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Let me catch my breath. Well, if this novel does not get a TV adaptation or a sequel, then take away my liberties and hide me at Horcombe House. The story is so visceral, intense and evocative. The subject matter is confronting. The championing of females and female friendship is second to none. "The sense of danger around her is growing by the second. The walls are closing in". The novel is set in the UK in a world recovered (but scarred) by the Covid-19 pandemic and suffering from significant climate catastrophes. These events have normalised the imposition of government surveillance and restrictions on personal liberties. It gives us a (somewhat terrifying) insight into what our lives might be post-pandemic. The novel opens with Emma, a midwife, doing a wireless swab check with the results being sent to the hospital through her government-supplied watch. I was floored! However, the people of Britain now face a new crisis – otherwise healthy babies are stillborn upon birth. The rate of stillbirths are increasing and there is no public explanation of why it is happening. As a result, all pregnant women are being monitored. All pregnancy tests must be recorded and their results registered. Because, of course, it is the woman's fault and it is her burden to carry on behalf of everyone. There are also rumours that expectant teenage mothers are disappearing. It is all utterly terrifying. This intimidating socio-political backdrop is filtered through the perspective of Emma and her teenage daughter, Lainey. The narrative is broken down into short increments of time, with each section introduced with a time stamp. This keeps the momentum pressing forwards. Dates are not focused on because the characters' lives are turned upside down in a moment, and so the moment takes precedent – not the days or weeks. And the ball really start rolling when Lainey finds out she is pregnant… What I loved about the novel was the representation of women – women in leadership roles, positions of power, mothers, daughters, feminists, teenagers, all perfectly imperfect and generally bad-ass. The image of the babushka doll within the story, and on the cover, is poignant and wonderfully on point. It is a generational story being told at a time when there is an immediate threat on women's reproductive capabilities. I would say that at times I did feel like there was a lot going on, with the political, environmental and health crisis coexisting, together with a lot of characters. However, the narrative did streamline in the second third so that the reader's attention was focused on the threat at hand. It started to unravel again near the end with new groups and characters being introduced, but by this point you are already honed into the narrative and you can weather it. And that ending. Wow. As Olivier Twist would say: "please miss, can I have some more?" This review is published on Goodreads (@annaliseygirl) and will be posted on Instagram (@buddstreedbooks) later this week. Thank you Netgalley and HarperCollins for an advanced copy of the novel.

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The Hush had me hooked from the first page and I didn't want to put it down. I loved the way it was written with each section starting with the day and time, and the way it alternated from Emma and Lainey. Set in the near distant future, post COVID in the UK, there are plenty of disasters to deal with and everyone is monitored via their watches. Almost half the babies are stillborn and pregnant teenagers are going missing. No one knows who to trust. Gripping and thrilling - well worth the read!

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Thank you very much to Netgalley for providing a digital copy of this terrific book. It's a story set in the future following the events of Covid 19. The concern on everyone's mind is whether a new pandemic is likely to emerge or whether a new terrorist strike has occurred. Despite having the best medical facilities, a growing number of stillbirths are being documented, and no one knows why. This is one of the most gripping and captivating books I've ever read. All of the primary characters in this book are female, and each of them is brilliantly written. I don't have a favorite character because I enjoy all of them: Emma, Lainey, Geraldine, Meena, and Serena. Though it was brief, the relationship between Emma and Lainey, as well as Emma and Geraldine, was pure and poignant. Characters that are smart and fearless, with no bullshit or self-pity. Despite being hardworking in their occupations, all of the female characters were tough, rebellious, resilient, calculative, and brilliant. Every character in this novel served a purpose and complemented one another. This novel kept me on edge the entire time I was reading it. The only thing I wish was that the conclusion had been more detailed; I was curious as to what would happen next. This is a fast-paced book that I couldn't put down till the finish. It's without a doubt one of my favorite books. I'd like to read more books by this author

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This book has rocketed to the top of my "favourite 2021 books" list! I honestly could not stop reading it. Emma and Lainey are normal people living in abnormal times. The suspense is delicious and the supporting characters so engaging. The light dystopian premise is laid out so convincingly I was ready to join the rebellion. The writing is excellent and the plot very intelligent. I will be recommending this book to everyone! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.

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(4.5 stars) “The system that supports you can also be used to control you, Emma don’t ever forget that, will you.” The Hush is the first book I have read that is set in a post-COVID-19 future. Rather than dealing with the pandemic directly, it speculates about what the experience of living with this global outbreak has done to us. Joining a growing collection of novels that investigate women's reproductive freedom, The Hush carves out a place on the shelf with books like The Handmaid's Tale, The Mother Fault, Fauna and Blue Ticket. The Hush depicts a government ever ready to exploit people's fear and obedience to health related rules "to have more control on the rate of reproduction”. Riffing on the reaction to events like the Black Lives Matter protests, Foster postulates a different world, where "a citizen’s right to protest is not going to be a priority for much longer”. And the solution, as ever, is a feminist one that recognises the power between women. As the novel's feminist icon, Geraldine Fox points out: "women are set apart by the system, taught to compare and compete before they can even figure out who they are, and some of them ended up spending their whole lives climbing over one another to rise to the top of female righteousness.” So underlying the horror of watching a government that "enjoys keeping its citizens make and frightened” at a time when people have "spent most of the year scared out of their minds, with the endless new cycle force-feeding then the daily horrors of it” is a hopeful tale of women's resistance. The Hush is fast-paced, well-written and very much set in the here-and-now of this unprecedented time period. It gets additional kudos for me never imagining reading the line: "Inserting the vial of her mother’s urine inside her like a tampon, just as they’d discussed” in a book. I found this book hard to put down.

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‘Now, it’s more like I want the world to change. I feel sadness and frustration rather than fiery outrage when I consider what’s happening, watching humanity repeating the same flawed patterns over and over.’ Sara Foster does it again with The Hush! This is a fabulous futuristic dystopian thriller, set in a time not long after the pandemic of COVID-19. She has produced such a clever plot with credible twists and turns that can easily be considered as a result of our current world predicament - something we would not have contemplated two years ago. ‘It’s been clear for a while that the government would like to have more control on the rate of reproduction - and that’s not just here, it’s happening the world over, now there’s so much more stress on supplies and resources, and the planet is in such a precarious and unpredictable state.’ Sara has cleverly included realistic threads that make her story quite believable. There is a cast of solid characters and as they range from adolescent to grandparents, this book is sure to appeal to a wide ranging audience. As outlined in the synopsis, this is a multigenerational, female-led story with women who are strong, resilient and courageous. It is wonderful to have such strong female leads all prepared to take on a society that has lost its way. There are a range of themes from adolescent and family issues, right up to senior government conspiracies and crucial environmental world issues. What Sara presents in this post-pandemic world, is a society with a government that has slowly mandated new laws in ‘community safety and well-being’ but is very much ‘big brother’ watching and monitoring you. Sara offers both a thoughtful and thought provoking scenario. ‘Listen, you might have been able to march like that a year ago, but it's not a good idea anymore. There are too many crises hitting us all at once. The government is determined to crack down on demonstrations. It’s a different world now than it was five or ten years ago.’ The Hush is certain to be the book people will be talking about in the last few months of this year and for quite some time. Women working together in a fast paced dystopian thriller that, scarily, would appear to be not that too far removed from our current reality. Highly recommend this book to readers who are partial to quality writing on creditable themes. ‘The system that supports you can also be used to control you, Emma. Don’t ever forget that, will you.’ This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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Thrillers are wonderful escapist books to read. Fuelled with adrenaline, powered by judiciously-placed reveals and always moving at something near to the speed of narrative light, they are a genre that is perfectly placed to take us on a wild journey that, happily in our famously loose end-addicted world where closure is often a dreamy myth, often comes with a nice, neat tidy ending. They are, without a doubt, a great deal of vicarious fun to read, and you might wonder if there is any way to improve on a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” model. Sara Foster has a found a way and it is dazzlingly, enrapturingly good. Her new novel The Hush (which finds its way to bookstores this coming Wednesday in Australia) injects the idea of the thriller with a pulsing, beating heart, an incisive sense of timely social commentary and a thoughtfulness about the state of the world that is not content to settle for trite, inactively realised, platitudes. Centred on a near-future Britain, where COVID, climate change and myriad other issues have taken a ragged toll on the national psyche, The Hush surveys a world which is rapidly tilting towards authoritarianism as opportunistic leaders realise that a rattled populace seems to be mostly happy to trade away freedom for some illusion of security. It’s a seductive idea that you can simply switch off the bad things in the world with a draconian law and an undemocratic edict there, and while there’s certainly a complicit section of the population happy to play along, it may not be as uniformly accepted as repressive leader wannabes think it is. Even so, there is a certainly enough of an appetite for someone high up to do something, anything, as increasing numbers of babies are being born who simply refuse to breathe at birth and die. It’s a traumatic pandemic of still births that is gut wrenchingly horrifying for the parents, and alarming for the wider public who simply see yet another dark cloud on a horizon already full to bursting with them. In a scared and worried UK then, it’s all too easy for the government to enact ever more restrictive laws, curtailing the rights of women particularly regarding their reproductive rights. Against this backdrop, 17-year-old schoolgirl Lainey is struggling with the fact that her friend Ellis is missing, one of a growing number of pregnant teenage girls who have disappeared, often along with their parents, while her mother Emma, a midwife, is grappling with the growing emotional toll of parents leaving hospital empty handed and broken hearted. It is terrifying enough for both of them, with front row seats to a society sliding perilously into authoritarian rule, to see this all happening but when Lainey herself gets in trouble, and Emma and her network of friends such as high-profile human rights lawyer Meena (mother of Lainey’s stalwart bestie Serena) have to rush to her aid, it suddenly becomes propulsively, nightmarishly real. This is where The Hush, a nuanced novel that knows humanity counts for everything in these types of stories, really gets its thriller game on. Much of the latter half of this engrossing book is devoted to fighting for Lainey and against the powers arrayed against her, and all of the UK really, who seek to impose a malevolent regime to their own nefarious ends. That alone makes for gripping, highly readable narrative. Where The Hush goes that bit engagingly and thoughtfully further is when it infuses this pell-mell rush to the thriller finish line with a carefully-wrought, nuanced rumination on the state of the world and how it is up to individuals to fight back when they see their governments taken a far too dramatic step to undemocratic rule. This is a thriller with a brain, a heart and soul, never more on display that in the close knit relationship between Lainey and single Mum Emma who discover how much their mother-daughter really means when it is under palpable, towering threat and who come to understand the power of female friendship and kinship, especially when Emma reaches out to her well-connected estranged mother, Geraldine, a high-profile feminist who may be critically important to their success in taking the fight to the corrupted establishment which now threatens them. They are not the only players of good and note in this brilliantly-told, highly-charged and intensely human story, but they are the three women around whom The Hush winningly revolves to powerful effect. It’s the raw humanity in the end that makes The Hush. That’s not to say it’s not doing brilliantly well on all other counts because it is a fine, fantastically detailed and richly told thriller and a meaningfully compelling treatise on the brokenness of the world and its possible shot at regeneration if we all give a damn, but it is the relationship between Emma, Lainey and Geraldine which gives the novel so much of its driving need to be read. You care deeply about these three people, all of whom in their own way are fighting back against the idea that you should be complicit in nascent tyranny, that the only way to cope with looming dictatorship is to keep your head down and hope no one notices you. These three brave women, each in their own way, come to appreciate that they must take a take a stand, that they must do something, and that it’s simply not enough to sit by and watch the world go destructively south because while you may not be in the firing line now, there’s a very good chance you will be later (which indeed comes to pass for all of them) and you can’t wait for that to happen. It does happen, of course, we wouldn’t have a thrilling read if it hadn’t, and it’s reading about how ordinary people like Lainey and Emma in particular find a bravery and resourcefulness to fight for their own lives, for the rights and freedoms of friends and family, and for society as a whole, that makes The Hush such a powerfully nuanced novel. While you may initially think the ending comes far too suddenly, upon reflection it ends precisely when it should, both in terms of job done and emotional connection restored, a final high note in a novel full of them The Hush is one of those rare precious books that barely puts a foot wrong and which captures both the grinding sense that something is very wrong with the world, but thankfully also that hope is not futile and that you may be able to make real change happen even in the face of insurmountable obstacles.

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The hush is like no book I have read before. Whilst I do not buy into conspiracy theories, Sara Foster as weaved what we use everyday into something sinister. Smartwatches have quite literally got smarter. With covid not yet a distant memory Sara takes us on a journey into an future where our current climate changes the way we live and how a government control every fabric of life itself. She portrays Lainey and Emma as nervous but feisty women who alongside Emma's mother Geraldine upset the status quo. Forever looking over their shoulders they find themselves in a network of good versus evil. Gripping from start to finish, this book is difficult to put down but it does have some unfinished business, so I hope there is a sequel.

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The Hush by Sara Foster is set in the south of the UK, in a near-future world recovering from the effects of COVID pandemics, food shortages, and then confronting the urgent challenge of climate change. This novel is timely, but I hope not prescient. The task of tackling these problems permits an authoritarian government to take total control of lives in the name of community health and safety. The future looks more stable until babies start dying. These babies are referred to as ‘doll babies’ and Emma, a midwife, describes this tragedy as “all those never-to-be lives cradled in her hands, their infinite possibilities dispersing into the ether.” No one knows why these apparently perfect babies are still-born. Then pregnant teenagers start to disappear. Told from two points of view, Emma and her teenage daughter Lainey, the narrative weaves seamlessly between the pair. The mother/daughter relationship and the female bond are dynamics of this story. The themes explored are relevant now. How far will a government go to protect its people? The politics and politicians seem so realistic but maybe that reflects the general perception we have of politicians now - they certainly seem similar! Public protests are effectively banned. Everyone must wear a watch to ‘keep them safe’, but is it more about surveillance and tracking? But as Emma comments, the surveillance crept up on them and nobody really cares now. The government invokes ‘crises’ to trump human rights. Crises also impact facts. Emma’s mother Geraldine is an outspoken feminist (and reminds me of someone rather famous). She refers to the battle to “separate and regain truth from perception and belief” – which neatly encapsulates some of the debates around COVID and vaccination and that “… because we all have access to information, everyone considers themselves an expert.” It is true that “… women’s rights are always the first thing to go backwards in a crisis.”. Emma says to a policeman “… I have no intention of encouraging my daughter to be compliant just to give the people in charge an easy ride”. But the fact is, every time you challenge the status quo, you put your head above the parapet and that makes you a target. Lainey and Emma find this out for themselves, but they are not alone. Geraldine has known this for a long time. The themes are interesting, well discussed and contextual but are relevant today. The best part is it is a wonderful story, told at a cracking pace, containing mystery, conspiracy, and courage in the face of unbeatable odds. I love and highly recommend this book.

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Some of the promotional material for The Hush by Sara Foster describe it as a 'near-future thriller' which I must say, is incredibly apt. And... wow, just wow. Foster has managed to reflect many of the issues of increasing concern in society today, in a way that seems both fantastically impossible and completely comprehensible at the same time. It's an extremely clever book, with an inspired premise, though we're seeing more and more books with George Orwellian-type themes, such as Kate Mildenhall's The Mother Fault. Foster's confronting narrative is further strengthened by fabulous characters who felt very real, complex and engaging. The best and worst thing about this book is how feasible it all seems. Foster writes about the government monitoring our every move via wristwatches and making decisions about women's bodies without consulting women themselves. Not to mention the fact that the dictatorship-like rules seem to keep changing so suspicion grows. At the moment in Australia we have those who disagree with the use of compulsory check-in apps and vaccination statuses to minimise the spread and impact of Covid. And of course decisions are being made about women's bodies in the US that many are questioning. We like to think governments have our best interest at heart and trying to balance personal freedom while protecting its people and its future. But, of course it isn't always the case. Emma and her daughter Lainey are delightful leads. They're struggling to communicate as the book opens. Emma - a midwife - is devastated by the rise of Intrapartum X babies (doll babies) that die the moment they give birth. No one seems to know why and there seems no commonality among those who survive. Foster easily conveys the differing views in society through the attitude of Emma and Lainey's friends, colleagues and community leaders. Again something we see mirrored even today - the wedge being driven between those with different viewpoints. Black vs white with very little grey. We've long been challenged to accept those with differing values, but what do we do if we're sure they're putting lives at risk or blind to risks they themselves will face? It's hard to talk much about this book without offering up the fact that Lainey becomes pregnant. She's faced with uncertainty about her mother's reaction and fear for what will come next given other young women have gone missing the moment they've bought a pregnancy test.  I very much enjoyed almost everything about this book; the characters, including those who play minor roles, as well as the inspired and confronting plot. Foster's writing is exquisite. There's also some detail about genetics and the concept of eugenics, and Foster dips into the impacts of climate change as well as government corruption and networks of rebellion. All topical and pressing issues.  The only thing I found slightly (ummm... maybe discombobulating) was how quickly the book drew to a close. I'd decided my iPad must not have downloaded it all when I saw how few pages were left and how much still needed to happen, but it wasn't the case. Of course many will appreciate that Foster respects readers enough to know we'll extrapolate from where she takes us to what comes next. This is the fourth book I've read by Foster and they've all been quite different. She's certainly a talented writer and this is easily one of my favourite books (and possibly the most thought-provoking) of the year.

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Book: The Hush Author: Sara Foster Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Publication Date: 27th October 2021 TW: Still Born, Teenage Pregnancy, Kidnapping Firstly, a dystopian thriller, who would have thought miss rom com would enjoy a dystopian thriller but can I just say from the get go I absolutely loved it, all of it!! The Hush is set in Britain post Covid-19 which sucked me in right away as I think it’s so cool that Covid is already being written about it books!! The country and everyone it it are still struggling from the impacts of the virus. In addition to all the stresses, one in five healthy babies are being born still born and nobody can understand why. Because of this catastrophe all pregnant women are being monitored thoroughly down to your first pregnancy test!! On top of all that, there is a rumour that young people under 18 who may be pregnant are disappearing as well as some of there families and nobody knows where they are going!! The story is told by midwife Emma and her teenage daughter Lainey and we see their perspectives on the whole situation in an every second chapter kind of motion. Honestly, I just couldn’t get enough of this story, from start to finish I simply just wanted more! The book is so well written, the tensions and emotions felt throughout were palpable. Personally I think this story is an absolute must read and I would absolutely love to read more, it was eye opening and really kept me guessing, I loved it!! Thanks so much to @netgalley and Harper Collins Publishers Australia for giving me the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy of The Hush in exchange for an honest review.

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This book is brilliant! The terrifying thing is but, a lot of what is happening in this story, is something I can imagine our future can look like. Not the Intrapartum X babies, but the whole government control, surveillance watches, health checks etc - a post COVID world. Hush is a very well written, gripping, addicting story. While some areas might be triggering to some in regards to the Intrapartum X babies, I found myself very anxious as the births were coming up and what their end results would be. The Hush kept me turning pages and devouring words like there was no tomorrow.

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A time comes where all people are monitored by watches, temperature checks, a place where the government watches and hears every single thing you do. Set a few years after covid, comes another pandemic that affects the unborn baby; leading to a series of unexplained stillborns. A group of young expectant mothers have gone missing, including Laineys friend Ellis. When Lainey gets swooped up into the trouble head on, it's up to Lainey, her mother Emma and Emma's estranged mother to face the challenges ahead. This world they have known has just become a whole lot more dangerous than they expected. Sara Foster's new book brings us a story about mothers' love, friendships, women's rights, empowerment and what it takes to risk it all for the truth to be set free. The first few chapters were the hardest for me because of how confronting it was, but it took a lot of strength to go on and finish reading the book. I'm so glad I did, because I really enjoyed this book despite its content. Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins for allowing me to read and review this book.

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Hmmm interesting story - considering the times we are living through right now. Lots of thoughts come to mind when reading this book - about tracking, control, women's rights, conspiracy and more. The book moves well ... and when reading this, you tend to ask yourself questions, and feel all the right emotions, as well as wanting to ensure that something like this never happens. Government Control is something that people are standing up against all over the world and at times this book reminds me that we need to be more proactive and not allow tracking etc to become the norm in our lives. But we all know that standing up for what we believe can also make us a target. Being written from the view of mother and daughter really worked in this book. I think at times both of them struggled pretending that everything was normal, when in fact everything was not normal, not in their control ... as they try to navigate their way through their every day lives, in the world as it is today.

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When I read the blurb on this I was a little sceptical that I would like it, but was swayed by the reviews. Very happy that I read it! In fact, found it very hard to put down. This is set in the not too distant future. In a post-COVID world in England the population is now used to having their health and movements closely monitored. Now there are a spate of stillborn babies and maternity care is being heavily monitored and controlled. Emma is a midwife and starting to wonder what is happening to all of the pregnant teenagers who have all but disappeared from the ward. Her daughter Lainey, seventeen years old, is also concerned about the number of teenagers disappearing, including her friend Ellis who was pregnant. The mystery becomes a nightmare as the situation becomes a lot more personal for both Emma and Lainey. Hard to put down once you start, this is a ripping good story. Thank you Netgalley and Harper Collins Australia for the opportunity to review this digital ARC.

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The Hush by Sara Foster is an unusual story set in a post-pandemic future where a new virus emerges that is killing healthy new born babies. The British government introduce new laws that limit individual freedoms but particularly that of women, to try and deal with this crisis. Everyone is monitored with watches they have to wear - where you are and what you say is known by the powers who rule. Prior to Covid-19 I would have taken this story as pure science fiction, however, our perceptions have been altered and our new normal has changed our lives, probably forever. So, consequently, there are many aspects of this story that challenge us including the issue of how far does a government need to go to protect society? Also the focus on women makes it even more pointed as it appears that their place in society in being increasingly diminished. Well written with a carefully developed plot with several twists that keeps the reader interested. A highly recommended read with a lot of issues for discussion. Thank you to Netgalley and HarperCollins Publishers Australia for an ARC to read and review.

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New epidemic is going on, most of healthy babies wouldn't take a breath at birth and they called it Intrapartum X babies. Several pregnant teens also disappear without a trace, included The Preacher Girl who posted a viral whistle blowing about cover-up inside the government body. Emma, works as a midwife in maternity ward and the sum of mortality rate of the babies terrifies her. Meanwhile, her daughter, Lainey is pregnant and trying to keep this secret to herself. This book sets in England in a not too distant future post pandemic where everybody has no more freedom and monitored through smart watch, the screening of body temperature and saliva for entering certain premises, all the information are sending to the government. I'm just imagining if this covid19 is not getting better, would we live in that kind of life? Emoji Hush is a gripping dystopian story from start to finish with a few strong female characters. While reading this book, I keep trying to reassure myself that this is a fiction, as I feel whatever Foster describes in this book is entirely plausible. The ending of the book is giving a promise for another sequel (I really hope so ) "....but it's been clear for awhile that the government would like to have more control on the rate of reproduction..." "In all the babies Rachel has analysed, there's hard to spot damage to a tiny part of the DNA sequence." "...It'll be a country of puppets"

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Sara Foster has knocked it out of the park with her latest book The Hush. While being set in a dystopian future it is terrifying close to real life and offers a glimpse into post-pandemic future where new-born babies are targeted by a virus that is stealing their life away upon delivery. When pregnant teens start to go missing and slowly so do their families it sets alarm bells ringing with dedicated midwife Emma. Things swiftly take a dark turn mixed with politics and rebellion, while Emma remains on a mission to save the babies before it is too late! With so much tension The Hush will keep you on the edge of seat, turning pages at warp speed desperate to see just how this story will unravel. It is full of strong female characters and a well-developed plot and is one I recommend you read immediately. Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins for the advanced reading copy it was one I thoroughly enjoyed.

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I enjoyed this book a lot. The near-future setting and premise are scarily realistic and reminiscent of 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale. Lainey's young adult story is interwoven with her mother's more adult storyline, making this a good fit for all ages. The story was engrossing and thought-provoking, but I was a bit disappointed with the way it was wrapped up. Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

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It is difficult reading this book not to draw parallels between it and The Handmaid’s Tale. Both books feature a government that has taken control of women’s reproductive rights. Both are well written and not out of the realms of possibility. A fact that is both fascinating and frightening. Set eight years in the future, Covid is only the beginning of humanity’s problems with a new plague sweeping across the UK. The plague causes a phenomena that results in stillbirth of otherwise completely healthy babies. Emma, a midwife, learns that her 17 year old daughter is pregnant and the race is on to keep Lainey and her baby safe. This book scared me even though is not meant to be scary. It merely showcases human nature in an authentic way and humans are sometimes not very nice. It is easy to see how those in power couldcross “the line” in the interest of keeping people safe. In uncertain times with fear governing people’s decisions, defining “the line” becomes difficult. Is it acceptable to sacrifice the rights of a few in order to save the lives of many? I like that Foster’s didn’t try to have all the answers. Her protagonist Emma just wanted to protect her daughter and her patients. The bigger issue loomed over her conscience but never influenced her decisions. The Hush is closer to our own world and has a more optimistic overtone than the Handmaid’s tale. It allowed us to hope for the human race. It was an enjoyable read. Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a copy of the book in return for my unbiased review. This review is my own opinion.

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Cast your mind forward to a post-COVID Britain, where frequent health checks are the norm and there are significant climate catastrophes. A new disaster is upon us, with a large number of babies not breathing at birth despite appearing otherwise healthy. Coined Intrapartum X babies, the latest epidemic puts a huge strain on hospital workers and leaves researchers desperately searching for answers. The Hush paints a bleak sombre world of increased government surveillance, all in the name of protection. Under the Orwellian-style government, citizens must wear watches at all times that track their location and are also believed to be able to record their conversations. “The system that supports you can also be used to control you” The novel is written from the perspectives of Emma, a midwife at a local hospital and her teenage daughter Lainey. Starting with conspiracies about pregnant teens going missing and the censorship of a YouTube site by ‘PreacherGirl’, the public’s liberties are slowly slipped away as the government turns more and more autocratic. I don’t normally read many thrillers (this was my second for the year) but omg, this was amazing! A fantastic piece of dystopian fiction. I loved its speculative nature and the way it felt relevant and quite plausible. It provided interesting commentary on the moral question of freedom vs. safety as well as strong female leads driving the protection of women’s rights. I really loved Emma’s character! She had such a big heart and wonderful character development throughout the book. She was always striving to do the right thing and standing up for those around her. I also loved the symbolism of the Matryoshka dolls and the ending closed things out rather nicely!

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Set after the pandemic, with the world still recovering. Part mystery and thriller, part dystopian, you cannot help being caught up in the world the author creates in this novel. Kept me turning pages rapidly and up late reading to finish. Absolutely loved it!

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The first book I have read set in post pandemic times with a very dystopian feel. I found that off putting at first and didn't want to read it but I am so glad I did, It is really well done and I enjoyed it. The themes are thought provoking and reminded me of The Handmaid's Tale in some ways. If you are looking for something a little dark that is a page turner, then you won't be disappointed! Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the advanced copy. Much appreciated.

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