Sunday, August 7, 2011

BloodLands by Christine Cody - review



Christine Cody

Hell, I don't remember the official category this is in, but it's a little steampunk, a bit western, and definitely post - disaster, major disaster.

Cover - I like the cover, it's dramatic, it's got wind, and dark stormy clouds...HOWEVER. It looks cold rather than the extreme dry heat that's pervasive throughout the novel....and the man looks like he might be suffering from the beginnings of lung disease, the kind that gives people a barres chest. Miners and Smokers get this type of look. Either that - or he's seriously bloated. It's all in the drape fo the cloth. Here it doesn't work so well - the drape of the cloth I mean. The cover is dramatic, and pretty cool though, even if it makes it seem like he is standing outside on a cold day. Love the gunbelt and the boots.

In Bloodlands, Mariah and friends have been living in underground caves/tunnels for a while. They have a pretty involved video-system for keeping watch of what's going on outside on the dry over-heated surface. Which is important because there have been men that have been harrassing them and asking questions, kind of like oldtime cowboys bugging the passive citizens of a small town or ranch. Water has become scarce and everyone barters for their needs. Mariah mines water and seems to feel guilty over something, she's always giving her tunnel-mates more than their share.

A Man suddenly appears on Mariah's vid-feed, obviously needing help and shelter, and yet Mariah almost doesn't let him in. It's not until her Intel-Dog insists that she lets him in. Mariah's reaction to the man's injuries is a little odd. In fact, everyone in the underground compound behaves oddly. They're a weird bunch - way too passive for people eeking out an existance in the wilds. Mariah notices that this man is healing way too fast, has some suspicions of him being a vampire which he denies. He keeps denying being a vampire even when it's obvious. Even when he can't stand because he sees a picture of a cross, he denies it. (oooh, that is some serious lying - if my man lied to me like that I'd be hella pissed) He must hate being a vampire, or he's just pretty damned stubborn. Mariah's intel dog wants this man around though, because he thinks he can help the settlers. Somehow.

The background story of the world situation is pretty intense, and we learn bits and pieces of what has happened to leave people in a world populated with monsters, demons, vampires, intel-dogs and people who speak a odd version of english - text or rather txt. I don't know how you would pronounce some of the words that seem clear enough on paper - this part didn't really make sense to me - I get the whole abbreviated thing, but how different is say txt pronounced from text? or cm from come?

Strange pronunciation issues aside, this was not your average book with your average characters. From the moment Mariah reacts in such a weird way to Gabriel's injuries, and the odd way that the other settlers behave, it's apparent that something is up. They are behaving as if they've been harrassed by a man named Stomp and Stomp's employees, and Stomp and his men are behaving as if they are feeling harrassed.

Cody has an interesting take on how the fall of government comes about - having some ties to 9/11, and spiraling from then, leading to breakdown, diseases and lawlessness. There's no one huge info dump, but rather a series of Mariah's narration, explaining a bit here and a bit there.

There was few twists and I loved that the characters were not victims, or even missunderstood ...people. They are what they are, and this is their story. Gabriel, however is a vampire who has begun to despair of his nature. Yep. He's being a little angsty, to the point of totally denying even to himself what he is. He denies it to himself as much as he can. Which must be hard when you have to drink blood to live.

The narration and dialogue was strong (for me, anyway) - going back and forth between first person from Mariah's point of view to third person from Gabriel's point of view. There is even a bit of Stomp's point of view and every now and then we see a monster hunting and feeding - quite gleefully feeding. During these feeding frenzy scenes, (not too graphic, just enough) there is absolutely no clue of who it is....

We have Stomp trying to take care of business, and searching out answers in a rather heavy handed way, Mariah and her friends keeping something hidden, Gabriel in serious denial to all (though Mariah and her dog have a clue) and things are coming to a head. All the ingredients for a kickass book. I think that Christine Cody (and her other personality) happens to be a very good writer with some very good ideas. However, I'm not really into reading about regret and angst over Gabriel being a Monster, or regret for Mariah for her issues...she actually has some good reasons for her regret, but I just don't like to read about self.....disgust or self-hate, or whatever it is she feels for herself. I was looking forward to this novel for over a year, so while I did enjoy the story for the story's sake, I was just the smallest bit disappointed in the angst of the two main characters. I want to read the second, but I hope that they overcome their dislike of themselves...or guilt. Maybe it's guilt. Whichever way, I know that it's an integral part of the story, it's just not totally for me, which is why (of course) I hope they're able to move on. Judging by the excerpt at the end of the book though, they have a lot of work ahead of them. Which means, I'll be buying the book, but it won't be on the top of my list. Who knows, maybe by the time it comes out I'll be looking for books about selfdoubt and guilt and discovery and forgiveness - we'll see. :)

But for readers who love reading about people overcoming these type of issues, growing and acceptance, etc - this would be a great book to read.

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