Living in the New Badlands isn’t for the weak. It’s the only place left in what was the United States that isn’t under the control of a thoroughly corrupt government. It is the last place to go where there is still a chance at freedom away from dishonest men. For Mariah Lyander, it is her home and sanctuary. Having recently lost her father, she is quietly surviving among a small group of outcasts. But, when a stranger shows up begging for a place to rest while his injuries heal, Mariah takes him in. And her world crashes down around her as she never expected it to again.
Gabriel is a vampire in need of a safe haven. Following the trail of his lost love from the Southeastern part of the country to the New Badlands, he runs into some trouble of his own before trying to make a home for himself among the strangers who have taken him in. When a powerful enemy threatens his new neighbors, he must choose between running and fighting, and realizes he has more to lose than he bargained for.
I’m always excited when I get to read the first story in a new series, and this one didn’t disappoint. Like most novels in this genre, the focus is on the conflict within the plot, rather than the main characters’ chances of a happily ever after. Instead of detracting from the narrative, however, Cody’s restraint as a storyteller makesBloodlands a compelling mystery as well.
There are, however, many fictionalized warnings about where our society could be headed that are planted throughout the novel. From the consequences of allowing blogs to pass themselves off unchecked as real news, to the majority of the villains who speak “text,” Cody’s visualization of such a future is highly detailed and pervasive.
For all the starkness of the novel, Mariah and Gabriel are wonderful together. So much so, that watching them fall apart was closer to a shock than surprise. Their attraction for one another didn’t in any way feel forced, and I’m very thankful there’s another novel to look forward to in the hope that they get another chance at happiness.Bloodlands isn’t a romance novel, but is a rich page-turner of a story all the same, and I’m eager to find out what Cody has up her sleeves next.
Set in a future where technology and white-collar villains destroyed the planet as we know it now, Mariah and a bunch of secluded folks are hiding in tunnels underneath the New Badlands, trying to escape the madness… That is, until Stamp came along, wanting to claim their territory for his own. Gabriel, as vampire looking for his runaway girlfriend, will also interfere in his quest to find her… and redemption along the way.
Try and imagine a dystopian set-up with bad guys, mutant creatures and talking dogs and add to it a healthy dose of Western atmosphere and you’ll get a good idea of what to expect in Christine Cody’s Bloodlands. I really enjoyed this dry and hostile territory where water is the most valuable resource. Monsters are roaming the earth, and Vampires aren’t the only ones out for blood. Mystery is also a thick veil over this inhospitable land and the author really keeps us in the dark until the end.
Even though the whole set-up was the star for me in this first novel of the Bloodlands series, the characters were also quite amazing. Mariah is hiding in the tunnels, afraid to go out and trying to run from a terrible, yet very mysterious, past. She was convinced by her Intel Dog (a talking mutant dog) to help Gabriel, a man who showed up at her door, bloody and dying. She has no idea of the trouble she's letting in… Her attraction to him will prove hazardous and I enjoyed their struggle in this very unlikely relationship. Both are figuratively haunted and their personal bogeyman might just catch up to them.
The bad guys are bad, yet when you compare them to the good guys… the lines gets blurry. Not everyone are what they seem in this terrible landscape and your allegiance may deceive you.
The tempo is rather slow even though it’s spiked with bursts of violence and the end is the apogee of this marathon. It will surprise you and completely challenge the perspective you had of the whole plot. Christine tied-up the story very well, no deadly cliff-hanger to speak of, yet I’m very excited for the second installment, Blood Rules, to be released on August 30th.
I would definitely recommend this book to Dystopian and Urban Fantasy fans. It’s a very original tale, not to be missed!
Oh and that cover? Down right amazing.. just sayin’.