Schnaucl's Reviews > Black Blood

Black Blood by John Meaney
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Apr 07, 09

really liked it
bookshelves: april, fiction, horror, library, read_2009, series, zombies, fantasy
Read in April, 2009 , read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** Meaney's world continues to fascinate me. Everything in Donal's country runs on necromagic, energy produced by the dead. I must confess, I'm not entirely sure how the magic system he's created works. Most of it seems to run on bones but there are other parts that get used as well. I think the phone system runs on nerves from the dead, for example. The very rich, of course, can get out of having their bones used for fuel, but there's a suggestion that that doesn't necessarily mean the bones are at rest. It's a complex system and not altogether clear, at least to me, but it's still fascinating. Most people try not to think about where their energy comes from, of course, or about the fact that eventually they'll be contributing to the reactor piles.

One of the key differences is that the neighboring country uses magic from a much smaller number of living beings. It's a plot element in both books and the question remains which system is more inhumane.

This book picks up where the last one left off, with Donal having just been resurrected into a zombie with his now deceased girlfriend's heart. Much of the book is spent with Donal grieving for Laura. I never really bought into their relationship in the last book, (it felt shallow to me, mostly based on sex and certainly not the love of his life) but I was willing to let that go in order to enjoy this book.

Donal has to spend some time getting used to being a zombie and finding out just what that means. He has much more conscious control over his emotions, to the point where he seems able to destroy them at will (or, in one case, unintentionally). It's not like a human would ignore an emotion as best he could for a while, the emotion literally becomes unimportant or an abstract. He also has to learn to consciously control his facial muscles and he gets much better at reading the micro expressions (not a term that's used) of others.

The rest of the team from the first book is back, but they're all worse off than they were before and there's no guarantee they'll stay a team now that Laura's gone and the purported purpose of the team has been accomplished.

Meanwhile, anti-zombie tensions are running high and while Donal has come into a large sum of money through Laura's death, there's a bill pending to make zombies non-beings and thus not capable of owning property, which naturally will be seized by the government.

There are certainly elements ethnic cleansing this time around. Zombies (and other non-humans but mostly zombies) are openly attacked and at one point even rounded up to be shot and killed in a scene that would not be out of place in a concentration camp.

I find it particularly interesting because while it appears that anyone who can afford it can take out a policy to be resurrected as a zombie, it's also true that not many have chosen to do so (we don't hear about the wealthy being a zombie class, for example, though given their long lives it would make sense). But we are told that civil servants such as firefighters and police officers automatically have such a policy in place. So I would think there would be some kind of respect due to zombies just from that aspect of it, but if so it's never shown.

For me the mystery really took a back seat to the world that Meaney has built. It seems unique to me and it's definitely a place I'm interested in exploring further.

The cliffhanger at the end is wonderful.
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