This book is interesting in a lot of ways. For one, it’s a book that does not seem to consider itself having a male audience at all. That doesn’t mean that it’s expressly written for women or a “female audience” but it eschews a kind of default audience or anything that lines up perfectly along those lines. It’s a little hard to put into words, but rather than focusing on a audience, it has a clear voice. There are men in this story, like there are in everybody’s story, but they play such ancillary roles to the relationship between the two main women.
That’s one reason: another reason is that this novel is not the waves and waves of plot that I tend to find in Megan Abbott novels. Plot meaning the events and machinations of the story, not the unfolding the things that occur here. Instead, this novel builds the stories and lives of the characters thoroughly as it moves the story ahead.
Third reason: it’s good, but some elements of it fall apart. I am not entirely convinced that Megan Abbott or the characters have that much actual experience a) long-distance running or b) science labs.
That’s ok because the novel could have been about almost any kind of setting where a male dominated field is upended by strong, capable, and seen women, and so the kinds of structures that patriarchy uses to exclude women, in the hands of women, are used in the opposite way.
So, I liked it, and in some ways a lot, but the edges were frayed and it crumbled by the end.