This was a hard and challenging read for many plot-related reasons, so I’d only recommend reading Toxxic if you’ve read and enjoyed Moths (the first in the series) first.

That aside, I also found it compelling and thought-provoking, so it was a worthwhile read for me.

Let’s get into the plot: 44 years ago a plague of toxic moths infected all men. Half died almost immediately, while half became ‘manic’ and killed millions of women around them. Since then, surviving uninfected men have grown up in prep houses and sanitoriums, with meds to keep them calm and shaved heads to enable easy checking for moths. Until (in book 1) a vaccine was found…

The only problem is, after 44 years many women don’t want them back. When a fostering programme is introduced for the first few men allowed outside, it’s quickly targeted by the ‘XX’, a group that doesn’t want them out at all.

Book one had an empathetic narrator who was a great introduction to the before and after times of the moths. This book has a few narrators who range from the loveable (Tony, one of the test releases) to the interesting (Evie, about to foster) and also a member of the XX, who of course hates all men – because of her very valid experiences when the moths came. She’s largely what makes the book a tough read. She is not hugely sympathetic, she talks about men in horrible ways, and her experiences of the world reveal so much incredibly awful violence that you might just want to put the book down. But you have to separate character from author and realise that she is a product of her experience and it makes logical sense. It’s also what makes the book interesting but not necessarily enjoyable. I enjoyed the exploration of this particular apocalyptic-style event, but it won’t be for everyone.

To an extent it felt a bit like a middle book of a series, where there is some progress but also some hope lost. I want to read the next book, if there is one, and find out that there’s a positive future for these people! So give me more please!