The Auction

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Pub Date 04 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 13 Aug 2022
Elci North, Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA), Members' Titles

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Description

In a society where babies have become a source of government income, laws designed to push up the birth rate are enacted that strip women of the most basic of human rights: The right to choose when to have a child, the right to choose who to marry, and the right to raise her biological child.

Logical computer programmer Jane overindulges at a graduation party, winds up pregnant, and is forced to marry a near-stranger. Drama queen Angelica bets a gay guy in a bar that he couldn’t “do it with a woman.” Pregnant Angelica loses her job and the love of her life. And after 13 years of trying, Millie finally conceives, but sitting vigil at her severely injured husband’s bedside takes priority. Fifteen-year-old Wendy loves school and art, but an ex-convict breaks the glass from her window and rapes her.

Their paths cross when they are sentenced to the same pregnancy prison. But as lawmakers know, putting women together can lead to ideas. Ideas that could end the baby auction and bring down the government.

In a society where babies have become a source of government income, laws designed to push up the birth rate are enacted that strip women of the most basic of human rights: The right to choose when...


A Note From the Publisher

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Advance Praise

"North's stinging dystopia debut depicts a future America where women are subjugated by the government Office of Reproductive Oversight, which controls every aspect of a pregnant woman's life, forbidding abortion, restricting women from working, and forcing them to marry the biological father of their babies. Women give up their babies to the Auction, where the wealthy bid on the healthiest babies and the poor take out predatory government loans to afford the sickest. "Every family gives a baby to The Auction and takes home one that is perfect for them," is the government line. Disobedient women in Pittsburgh are sent to the McKee Place, Home for Pregnant Women, a prison where North shows us four women bonding: computer programmer Jane was caught working, blind Millie is forbidden to live alone while her husband recuperates in the hospital, party girl Angelica's gay father of her baby won't marry her, and 15-year-old Wendy refuses to return to her sadistic rapist husband. North humanizes these protagonists in an inhuman society that infantilizes women, touts bogus "research" from unscrupulous universities, and bombards the population with propaganda lies, such as claims about women's responsibility for being raped.Eventually, the cast of this well-paced, engagingly horrific story learns the true purpose of the Auction—and that women in other countries are free to work and keep their own babies. After tragedy strikes, the four women use their skills, along with the help of sympathetic men, to hatch a plan to set things right. Readers will toggle between rage and hope as they immerse themselves in North's meticulous worldbuilding that exposes the hypocrisy and illogic of brutal government policies, stifling bureaucracy, and government censorship. North crafts a memorable and emotional thrill ride through an unnerving society with intelligent and inspirational characters who strive to create their own destiny."
—Booklife Review (⚡️)

"Elci North creates a fantastically creative new government order under a utilitarian rule in The Auction. I love how just enough aspects of American society remain unchanged to keep the general population subdued by way of ‘it could be much worse’ gaslighting. The writing is exceptional. I loved the way each woman's predicament paved their path of misery to the prison, and how none had even the tiniest shred of agency to prevent what happened to them. The auction itself is unique in that it is the women and the husbands they conceived their babies with, like it or not, who are the bidders. Everyone there has had their biological child put into the auction listing, and each will leave with a baby; one that is unlikely to be theirs and that comes with a price tag they can afford. The way the women come together is organic, as is the dialogue and the believability of their backstory. I went into this book out of curiosity and came out the other side as an Elci North fan. Very, very highly recommended."
Reader's Favorite (5 Stars) 

"North's stinging dystopia debut depicts a future America where women are subjugated by the government Office of Reproductive Oversight, which controls every aspect of a pregnant woman's life...


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Featured Reviews

Book Review: The Auction
Author: Elci North
Publisher: Elci North
Publication Date: February 4, 2022
Review Date: May 7, 2022

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

From the blurb:
“In a society where babies have become a source of government income, laws designed to push up the birth rate are enacted that strip women of the most basic of human rights: The right to choose when to have a child, the right to choose who to marry, and the right to raise her biological child.

Logical computer programmer Jane overindulges at a graduation party, winds up pregnant, and is forced to marry a near-stranger. Drama queen Angelica bets a gay guy in a bar that he couldn’t “do it with a woman.” Pregnant Angelica loses her job and the love of her life. And after 13 years of trying, Millie finally conceives, but sitting vigil at her severely injured husband’s bedside takes priority. Fifteen-year-old Wendy loves school and art, but an ex-convict breaks the glass from her window and rapes her.

Their paths cross when they are sentenced to the same pregnancy prison. But as lawmakers know, putting women together can lead to ideas. Ideas that could end the baby auction and bring down the government.”
——
This was a very scary book to read, seeing an America in the future where our Constitution had been completely destroyed. The depth of misogyny portrayed in this book is chilling.

For some reason, I had difficulty following the plot. There were so many characters, and different plots intertwining that I got lost. And I found it hard to keep track of the various characters. But aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and recommend it.

Thank you to the author for giving me access to this book.

This review will be published on NetGalley and Goodreads.

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Absolutely gritty and real! In an age where a woman’s reproductive rights are under threat, this story tells what could happen, how the loss of one right can start a slippery slope to lose much more.

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Can you imagine a world wherein pregnant women are not allowed to work? Where becoming pregnant requires that you marry the biological father?A world where you then give up your child to the AUCTION and are forced to purchase someone else’s offspring, and committing you to caring for that child ( no working for you ) until he or she turns 18?
That is the premise of this novel, and in light of the current Roe vWade debate by the SCOTUS…it could not arrive at a better time.
Although the actions in this book are extreme , it gave me thought. If the government outlaws abortion, how will that change things in America? Obviously this would lead to an increase in unplanned pregnancies and presumably an increase in the number of adaptable babies, but also the number of men paying child support….But what if next birth control is outlawed ( some states are trying to pass that legislation) , just how far behind that would come something like the AUCTION? Seriously? Some employers are already exploring how to avoid having to cover birth control as the Roe v Wade issue is looking increasingly likely to be overturned.
If you overturn Roe v Wade and employers won’t cover birth control…how long will it take before an Auction type scenario occurs.
Scary stuff

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It was the image on the cover that first drew my attention to this book. The image of the pregnant woman behind bars is certainly a compelling one. Then once I read the blurb, I knew that I absolutely had to read it.

Sadly, the society within the book is not all that unbelievable when you look around and read the news articles right now from different parts of the world. The society is run by men and of course this means that the world is angled and in favour of the male race. The government is made up of men too, the head of which is President Boyce. President Boyce’s ideal, that he pushes everyone to strive to is his vision of the “Halcyon Days” basically what the male government see as the “good old days.” His good old days consist of the women at home having babies, doing all the housework, with a pretty dress, face full of makeup and dinner ready on the table when the bread winner husband arrives home from work. The government and their vision of the Halcyon Days is an extremely discriminatory one. When it becomes apparent that the government needs more money for the running of the country, they begin to use babies as a source of income. A system is created where families “give a baby, and, take a baby” When pregnant women have their children, they leave their baby at the hospital. Most of the time they don’t even see or hold their own baby. This procedure is referred to as “giving a baby.” Later the babies are put up for auction. This is the other part of the procedure “taking a child.” There is a set minimum bid amount, that all babies make. If the parents that give a child are poor, they are given a loan, a “Family Development Loan” which is “offered” or rather “given” by the Office Of Reproductive Oversight. This loan is for an 18 year term which is free of interest for just the first 6 months. If the baby you give up is sold for over $35,000 the parents receive 2% of that amount.

Women are really not allowed to work unless they meet very specific criteria, which are, that they have completed the menopause, are sterile or carry a severe genetic disorder which would mean the baby would be a burden of the health & welfare and cost the government money. In other words, they cannot have any/any more babies! There are only a few jobs women are permitted to do and those are not influential positions. Women are not allowed to own a business at all. Even when women are “conforming” and are pregnant they have to keep up certain conditions and have regular checks whilst pregnant. If the government think the women is in contempt of any rules and/or is not caring for her unborn baby, the woman will have to go to a Home for Pregnant Women or as they are referred to by the normal population as “pregnancy prison.” Women also have to marry the biological father of their baby, or if they are not available, a male member of the biological father’s family. There are no excuses for not marrying the biological father of your baby. Even the word “Rape” is literally outlawed. President Boyce and his government simply do not recognise rape, there is no such thing, it is the fault of the women, she led the man on past his point of control, so it is all her own fault! The government is also very prejudiced against any other sort of disability on one level, such as those disabled have to prove they can live independent lives to be allowed to get married. If they cannot prove this then they must remain with their parents until their parents die and then they are put in an institution and are not allowed to marry or procreate. Yet when it comes to the auction and the whole “giving a child and taking a child” all parents are informed is that all children are lovable, that there is no such thing as “maternal instinct” women can and will love which ever baby they buy and bring home form the auction. Those who have access to plenty of money can afford to purchase not only a fit & healthy child but one that has certain genetic markers they find appealing too. Those with little money have to buy the less healthy, perhaps disabled babies that are left until last that no one else wants. They then have to care for that child for the rest of their life and that of the child. The government also stresses that there is no such thing as maternal instinct, so parents should accept whichever child they purchase at the auction and love and care for it as much as if it were the baby they created.

The government has been run a long time by President Boyce, others have tried to topple him and all have failed but there is a new candidate now, a woman called Wilma Harding the head of the Traditionalist party.

The book gives some background of the very different main female characters of, Jane, Angelica, Millie, Wendy. Soon they all have one thing in common, for different reasons, they are all sent to “pregnancy prison.” The book reveals their different stories of becoming pregnant, Millie who is blind and very much in love with her husband, Jason, and they have been trying for years to have a baby. Wendy a young teen who hasn’t even finished school who was in bed one night and a man broke into her home, through her bedroom window and raped her, she became pregnant and had to marry the biological father of her baby. Each women had a different tale. They each followed a different path, to how they ended up being pregnant. The women in the McKee Home For Pregnant Women have restricted access to the telephone and also limited visiting hours for their partners or loved ones to come and see them. None of the women are happy to be in the home except Wendy who is relieved to be away from her “psycho husband” as she refers to him. Angelica has a boyfriend, Angus who happens to be a top lawyer, Jane’s husband, Dave, is a computer whizz, Millie’s visitor is neighbour Beverley, and these are the only contacts the women have with the outside world. Angus, Dave and Beverley put their heads together initially just to get the women out of “pregnancy prison” and then set their sights even bigger, they want to bring the whole system of “The Auction” down.

I could honestly go on and on telling you even more about the book and I probably seem like I have revealed a lot already but there is so much more to the book too. The intricacies of each womans background, how they became pregnant, how they ended up in pregnancy prison, what they want from their future etc. Then of course there are secondary characters and their stories too. The world building is brilliantly done, it is so believable, and so skewed against women, you end up hating President Boyce as much as Jane, Millie, Angelica & Wendy do! There is still quite a bit of humour in the book, such as the description of the director of the pregnancy prison, Candy and her hair that literally has you visualising this ditzy, petty, candy floss haired women who thinks she is superior to these women. As well as the women’s stories being told there are “Flash News Brief” pages between the chapters up dating you on what is happening within the world, outside of the pregnancy prison.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book were Oh Wow! How very eerily believable with how our world is currently seeming to go backwards on women’s rights!

Summing up I loved this book, and it was quite funny that I was watching Handmaids Tale which also has the theme of men being in charge, and women being oppressed as well as similar themes. There was just one thing missing for me at the end, maybe a bit of a loose end, which obviously I cannot really go into, but I will just say it was regarding the character called Wendy, apart from that it was a really great read! I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for other books by this author.

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A fantastic read that is real and raw and shows how terrifying society could become. I really enjoyed it and couldn't put it down.

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Uhmmm this was a great read with a really difficult theme to swallow, basically women do not have rights, rape doesn’t exist, even other women are biased in thinking that rape doesn’t exist, and women are forced to get married to the father of the baby, also women cant work before the child is 18 years old, so there’s no real need for women to study and for each baby you need to pay at least 5000 dollars, and to make things worse, couples need to bring a baby to the auction but they don’t leave with their baby, yeah everything feels wrong with the auction, worse even is that a man that has lost his wife he is not allowed to raise his son/daughter because only a couple is allowed that… do you feel horrified already?

This book follows the lives of 4 of these women and the men in their lives, and believe me this book will shook you, you’ll be sad, you’ll feel hope and want them to be happy, you’ll hate some characters with passion, and others you just wish you could meet them in real life, and in the end you’ll be left with the feeling that if even people that live in such a dystopic world could still fight, then there’s still hope for us.

I highly recommend this book, even if it is hard for you to read, read it, take your time, is worth the ride.

Thank you NetGalley for the free ARC and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

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Such a different type of book and I found myself pleasantly surprised. While this book clearly won’t be for everyone, I loved how it sets itself apart from other books. Four different women, in 4 different situations, under the control of a government who limits any power and control that women have. While I was angry that the women in this story had been so accepting of things for so long, it also made me think about the holocost and what 1 man with crazy ideas and a whole host of followers can do, but also that one voice can gather strength over the wind and a big enough gust can be the change people don’t always recognize they need.

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Another dystopian novel that could sadly come true. This book grabbed me and didn't let go until the last page.

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What a ride! This dystopian novel will have you questioning the future of humanity. I could not put this book down. And I can honestly say that I have not read anything like this before.

The Auction takes place in the United States, where the country is trying to convert back to the Halycon days. During this time, women are wanted for reproduction purposes. Birth control is illegal and once a woman is pregnant, she must quit her job and raise her child. Also, if she isn’t already, she has to marry the father (after a paternity test to confirm). She must also cook, clean, and be ready to care for her spouse when he returns home from work.

That’s not the worst part. Once the child is born, they are placed up for auction, and the highest bidder takes the prize. So even if you love your spouse and create a child together, you have to put them in the auction and hope you can afford to purchase your own baby.

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WOW!! This book had me hooked from the start. This is a book that everyone should read. It may be a work of fiction but it shows the possibility of where things can progress to if we let it.

I received an ARC and this is my unbiased opinion

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Love The Handmaid's Tale? This is a great standalone novel for you!!

I'm not much for dystopian literature usually - but The Auction was so well written!! And you get to see the women reclaim their lives/power/faith in humanity I suppose? By the end of this book, I felt like I learned a lot about myself and how I would handle things!

An introspective read is always great to include amidst the romance and fantasy!

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This book is amazing and very on-point for the time period we are living in. I've already bought a copy of it for my classroom and I plan to spread word of this book far and wide. Well done!

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The future of America is not flying cars and robots at every corner. Nope. Instead, it's the Auction - the government's way of taxing Americans and getting more money. President Boyce (basically a dictator) wants America to go back to the "Halycon Days" or the 1950s and 1960s. In those wonderful days, the men worked and the woman stayed home and cooked, cleaned, and cared for the children - all while wearing heels, dresses, and not a hair out of place. According to President Boyce and his laws, if a woman gets pregnant, she must marry the biological father whether or not she knows him. Certain sports are too dangerous for women to play and women can't travel because it all puts too much stress on the woman's body. This book follows four women who live completely different lives but end up in the same pregnancy prison, become friends and begin to question everything they know.

This book really surprised me. I wasn't expecting to find it so interesting and to like all of the characters (normally one always ends up annoying me) but I felt like I knew them all. Elci North does a great job at describing the characters, their backstories, and what's happening in future America. There were some funny spots that I even laughed at. However, it does slow in the middle of the book and some conversations seem repetitive but it definitely picks back up and finishes strong.

Thank you, NetGalley and Independent Book Publishers Association for the opportunity to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to Netgalley And publisher for this incredible ARC!!

This was a chilling and compelling read. My feelings condensed into a single thought. I hope to God this doesn't happen because I know for a fact it ain't that easy. It is as if Elci North reached into my nightmares and all my anxiety about the world today and pulled out this book. It was riveting, and I was unable to sleep until it was finished.

It is in need of a stern and strong handed editor, some of the choices that the characters made were unnecessary and silly (Angelina) and if I heard about Millie's super schnoz one more time...but, ultimately this was a decent, thrilling book with a satisfying ending.

TW: r@pe of ALL KINDS

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This was a really cool concept! Loved the plot, loved the whole idea of it and had 1984 dystopian vibes. I found one of the characters a bit annoying but other than that I couldn't fault it. Really enjoyable read and I'm dying to know who the author is!

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Fans of The Handmaid's Tale and Vox this one's for you! Creative view of a future manipulated and distorted to the advantage of the rich, and the few that will risk it all to uncover the truth! No spoilers here, a page turning and engaging story that will have you hooked.

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This was a unique and interesting read. It’s set in dystopia and depicts a future America where women are subjugated by the government Office of Reproductive Oversight, which controls every aspect of a pregnant woman's life...

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I finished this book yesterday and I have been trying to come up with the words to describe and review it, and after 24-hours the main word that comes to mind is still wow.

Elci North's The Auction, takes us approximately 150 years into the future of the United States. It is an America that most would not recognize, but also a future that is so terrifyingly possible. American citizen's have been stripped of their rights, women more than men. The US constitution has been abolished as has the ADA. The US Government controls the media, access to the internet requires special permissions and is highly monitored. Women are only allowed to work approved jobs, if they become pregnant it is illegal for them to work. Birth control is illegal, rape is a myth and is always the woman's fault for enticing the man beyond his control. When a woman becomes pregnant, she must marry the man you got her pregnant regardless of how she got pregnant, and she must remain married to him until the child turns 18 or in the case that child get pregnant and marries. If all of that was not bad enough, the American people have been brainwashed into believing in The Auction. Babies are taken from the birth mothers immediately, before they can see them or hear them cry. Once a month The Auction is held. The babies have undergone genetic testing for personality, predisposition of certain traits, intelligence, defects, and disabilities. The wealthy are able to buy designer babies, while the poor get what is left. The minimum bid at auction is $5k and if a couple cannot afford that, they most take out a family loan and pay it back at about 3-4x the amount over 18 years. If a woman breaks the law while pregnant, she goes to pregnancy prison to be monitored and make sure that the baby is brought safely into the world.

It was at that 16% mark that I started recommending this book in all of my reading groups. The four main characters are written and developed so well. Their stories are all so different, yet the same because they are all pregnant women in this misogynistic society. Prior to the 16% mark, I felt like this book was important. It was not one of those books that would fill you with warm fuzzies, or cause you to laugh for hours. It will not keep you on the edge of your eat waiting for the next twist. It is not an epic adventure to go on. It is one that will stick with you. I have put out a call to any and all of my reader friends crossing my fingers that some will read this and discuss it with me.

To say I love this book or that this is a good book sounds terrible. The material is hard. It is dark. There are MANY trigger/content warnings (readers sensitive to certain content should be cautious when picking this one up). However, I would be lying if I did not say that this may be one of the most important reads I have read. Elci North beautifully told this story and I cannot thank her enough for that, but man if she is not going to keep me up wondering who she is and what her normal genre books are, wondering if I have read them and experienced her voice before.

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What a book to read during the climate that we live in today. Tha k you net galley for a review copy of this book. I would definitely recommend it to fans of books like the Handmaids Tale. Such a wonderful read.

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Big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This book really surprised me. I was immediately drawn in by the cover, a pregnant woman behind bars. I love the Handmaid’s Tale and dystopian books and this did not disappoint. It was sad, emotional, dark, but still hopeful and funny at times. I fell in love with all the characters and the bond they created. The only semi-negative thing I can say is that I felt it could have been a tiny bit shorter, and problems almost felt *too* easily solved, but that did not really take away from the story for me. If you love dystopian books, The Handmaid’s Tale, or are just interested in reading about a future United States that has heightened control over women and their babies… then this book is for you.

I would give this book 4.5 stars.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: suicide, rape

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Thank you to NetGalley, Elci North and the publisher for the copy of The Auction. The Auction was a beautifully written commentary on the necessity of a woman's right to lead and be heard. The characters were all written in a way that gave them distinct view points on the importance of female empowerment but done in a way that, when viewed together, gave a clear picture female struggles in society. Furthermore, the most interesting aspects of the book were the subtle nods to American exceptionalism and the dangers of arrogance on the world stage. The Auction is a perfect blend of the social and political ideas that show revolution is sometimes the only way to right an institutional wrong. I would highly recommend for anyone that is a fan of The Handmaid's Tale or dystopian novels.

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