Thursday, August 6, 2015

Black Blood (Black Bloods #1) by John Hennessy

Despite the pills that Aberdeen Dareday is forced to take each day, she feels deeply.  Abby works hard to suppress her emotions and fit in with all of the other humans living on the alien ship who have been saved by WWIII by the Khahireans.  When her veins turn black and the Kahahireans turn on her, Abby is forced to flee the only home she has ever known.  This is when Abby learns that she has been lied to her entire life.  Facing reality is not easy because it means learning that not only have the Kahahireans duped humans but were creatures, sorcerers and vampires are real.  Abby is force to run for her life because not only are the Kahahiereans on her trail, the other abnormas are fascinated by her strange blood.  Can Abbey find a way to survive in this brave new world is save humanity from its captors?

Black Blood grabbed from the very first chapter.  It's absolutely a different take on a dystopian novel and I simply love the fact that it is one of the few examples in this genre in which we don't have a White, male cisgender heterosexual saviour.  Abby has to learn how to read people for the first time having had no experience with emotion and it leads to some awkward situations.  She's never sure how or if she should express herself. Abby often becomes overwhelmed by her emotions but it works to her advantage because of her magic.  With a single thought she can kill and set someone on fire.  Though Abby is scared of what she can do she has to keep pushing forward in order to survive.  

We are introduced to several supernatural creatures in Black Bloods but learn little about their society beyond their weaknesses.  Were creatures for instance are instinctively drawn to silver even though it has the ability to kill them.  Abby is unique amongst the abnormals because she is immune to silver sickness and gold does not bother her.  I wish that Hennessy had Abbie learn to fight instead of using woo woo to have her instantly be able to defend herself and escape sticky situations.  Abby is also a reader in that she can read any text in any language.  Apparently, this is a rare skill but it reads as Abby pulling another magical skill out of her ass in the nick of time to save the day. 

Much of the book is spent trying to figure out exactly what Abby is and when the big reveal does finally happen, it's so rushed.  I feel like I didn't really get to enjoy the ending.  Just about everyone Abby and her love interest Ash meet tries to kill them yet when they meet to humans despite being repeatedly told that everyone tries to kill Black Bloods, when they meet Nora and Collin things change.  All Abby has to do is prove that she is a witch and say that she wants to save the word and voila, these humans invite them into their home and agree to help.  Huh?  Clearly, Hennessy plans to have Nora and Collin play some role in the second book in this series but it caused me to break my belief in the story.  We need to be given some reason why Collin and Nora are so trusting.  This makes the set up for book 2 awkward.

Because of the limitations of Abby was raised she has never had a romantic relationship.  She was told repeatedly that sex is not something enjoyable.  The humans in captivity feel this way because of their emotions have been shut off.  Abby is unique in that she cannot wait until she can be mated.  On the outside world Abby finds herself feeling sexually attracted to almost every male she meets.  A simple kiss is enough for her head to spin and the word, "cock" leads to arousal.  I don't mind romance in dystopian but much of what occurred felt like I was being hit over the head.  Yes, a young woman still in her teen years is going to have raging hormones particularly when she is not allowed to explore her sexuality but in her interactions with Ash there was none of the shy build up which happens when people find each other attractive.  Mostly it's all about Abby thinking about how attractive Ash is and that she saw him naked.

Hennessy included a scene in which Ash is being sexually violated.  It's disturbing that at first Abby finds this to be a turn on.  I get that she has never seen a naked man or any kind of sexual interaction but how can you see someone you supposedly care about tied naked to a bed and being touched sexually against their will and feel aroused or even jealous?  For his part, Ash doesn't express an kind of pain or issue with what happened to him.  The sexual assault is downplayed because of the violence Ash has to live with on an everyday basis.  

In terms of racial diversity, Hennessy does a great job.  Ash, Abby's love interest is Black and several of the side characters of colour. Kip for instance is Abby's mentor before he taken away and murdered for the crime of expressing emotions and remembering his past. Natasha Rose is the daughter of the Lord Alpha and is Ash's would be rapist.   I do however which that Hennessy would refrain from describing skin colour as  akin to chocolate pudding like. Hennessy does a good job sharing Ash's back story and explaining his taciturn nature.   There are however no LGBT characters whatsoever and no hint at all that everyone left remaining isn't straight and cisgender.  It's typical of this genre but nonetheless irritating.  

I want to see where this story is going; it's clearly building up to an epic finale.  Even though at times Abby's naivete gets on my nerves she an interesting protagonist and I very much get the sense we have barely made a dent into exploring who she is.  I wasn't nearly as invested in Ash and that is probably because he doesn't say much and is at times very abrupt but I am however invested in the team that Ash and Abby make when they work together.  I love the Black Blood pets who travel with them, particularly the raven who begged for candy.  Hennessy did an awesome job of making them seem real and investing them with real personality.  There's much to love about Black Bloods and Hennessy puts a unique spin on were creatures, vampires and aliens, melding them altogether to tell a gripping story. 

Editors Note: A copy of this book was received from the author for the purposes of review.