The XY

She’s been taught to fear him.
He’s been taught to fear her.
What if they’re both wrong?

In River’s world, XYs are a relic of the past, along with things like war and violence. Thanks to the Global Agreements, River’s life is simple, safe, and peaceful…until she comes across a body in the road one day. A body that is definitely male, definitely still alive. River isn’t prepared for this. There’s nothing in the Agreements about how to deal with an XY. Yet one lies before her, sick, suffering, and at her mercy.

River can kill him, or she can save him. Either way, nothing will ever be the same.


Winner of the James Tiptree Jr. Literary Award.

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: November 6, 2018
ISBN: 9781492662174

Reviews for The XY

‘. . . a post-apocalyptic puzzlebox that raises important questions about gender, sexuality, and toxic masculinity. A provocative thought experiment in the same vein as classic feminist science fiction like Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness . . . ‘

Elizabeth Galewski at Black Gate

‘This is a beautiful and sad story with some amazing feminist messages.’

Hello Jenny Reviews

“. . . the plot is compelling . . . An enjoyable quick read for those who love dystopian fiction.”

Jessica Perovich at School Library Journal

” . . . an interesting counterpart to DeStefano’s Wither (BCCB 3/11) or as a primer for Margaret Atwood’s adult works.”

The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Bergin uses a clever premise and vividly sketched characters to illustrate the importance of compassion and inclusion.”

Publishers Weekly

‘Bergin’s matriarchal world building is fascinating . . . Hand to teens thirsting for an original tale.’

Carolyn Kelly at Booklist

‘Disasters that wipe out much of mankind don’t happen simply for revenge, or at least they should not do. They happen because that allows us to imagine significant changes to human society that could perhaps not occur in any other way. And they allow us to interrogate the results of such changes.’ (WARNING: the full review contains spoilers!)

Cheryl Morgan

‘Vigorous, energetic and exhilarating, this is a novel that has heart and courage, just as its protagonist River does.’

Judy Darley at SkyLightRain

‘Entertaining, thought-provoking and a little bit heart-breaking, I loved it.’

Paisley Piranhas

‘(Who Runs the World? is) provoking all manner of strong feelings. That’s not a bad thing for a story. For me, I’m strongly on the positive side. Highly recommended!’

Katy Haye

‘In a nutshell: rollicking, thought-provoking dystopian adventure . . . The book examines not just our attitudes to gender but poses wider questions about politics, power and the way we operate as a society . . . Read it and think!’


‘ . . . this is a book that will make people want to have a voice and stand up to make their future better.’

Rhino Reads