★★★★ Imagine a world where males and females live apart, and have no knowledge that the other sex exists—until they graduate from college. In Thomas Duffy’s The Separation, this is how society operates to ensure that citizens receive an education before procreating. The storyline follows Finn Parker as he completes his schooling and is finally told about the female population. A gifted student, Finn lands a great job after graduating. He tries to stay focused on his new, promising career while adjusting to a world with women and his sudden, intense preoccupation with sex. Finn quickly meets and marries an intellectual named Angela. They have a son, Leonardo, who is immediately taken away to complete his male-only schooling. Missing his son terribly, Finn goes to extreme measures to see Leonardo and is quickly taken into custody. He must now stand up to those in power and fight to stay alive.
The societal structure presented in The Separation is both intriguing and terrifying. Readers can’t help but imagine how they themselves would fare in a world where the sexes are divided. As the story progresses, Finn’s disapproval toward the society that made him deepens and hardens. It’s nearly impossible for the reader not to feel Finn’s pain as he wrestles with the knowledge that his teachers, his parents, and those in power willingly lied to him for so many years. Upon learning about females and sex, Finn naturally becomes consumed with sexual impulses and thoughts. Even so, readers should nonetheless note that this is a major part of the book and that it won’t be suited for everyone. The final chapters of the book are completely engrossing, and at moments barbaric, as Finn desperately fights to save himself and those he loves. All in all, The Separation doesn’t let up.