ARC, book review, NetGalley, St. Martin's Press

Wonderblood by Julia Whicker

Wonderblood

2 Stars

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: April 3rd, 2018

Genre: Fantasy, Post Apocalyptic, Dystopia

Where you can find Wonderblood: Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Book synopsis (from Goodreads):

A dystopian fantasy about war, faith, and waiting for space shuttles. 

Set five-hundred years in the future, Wonderblood is Julia Whicker’s fascinating literary debut, set in a barren United States, an apocalyptic wasteland where warring factions compete for control of the land in strange and dangerous carnivals. A mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off millions. Those who remain to worship the ruins of NASA’s space shuttles and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favour of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.
When traveling marauders led by the blood-thirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As the war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor’s queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl’s ascent. 

Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel that will delight fans of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Jeff VanderMeer’s Acceptance.

Trigger Warning: child abuse, pedophilia, and graphic violence

My review:

Image result for fantasy pictures of desolate usa
Picture credit

I am a huge fan of post-apocalyptic books. I enjoy reading about how a civilization would adjust if something awful happened. So, when I saw Wonderblood, I was excited. I was excited because the author had this civilization worshipping NASA and the space shuttles. It was something different from the usual post-apocalyptic stories. Then I started reading the book and became disappointed. I actually struggled to finish reading it. Which is something that I rarely do.

If the author had stuck with only the girl’s storyline, I would have liked this book more. But the constant switching between characters became confusing after a while. There were several times where I would start a chapter, get a few paragraphs in and have to reread because I thought it was another character. That alone made me want to DNF it. I can’t stand it when chapters aren’t labeled when the author switches characters POV. Makes it very difficult to keep the rhythm of the story going if I have to keep going back in a chapter to reread it.

I felt that there were several unresolved storylines. Such as the plotline with the Pardoness. She asked Marvel to get a surgeon to cut off her legs, which were deformed. Marvel (the Hierophant) went through all the trouble tracking Tygo (the prisoner) down and taking him from John (the Chief Orbital Doctor). Then nothing ever happened. Instead, all 3 men did something else and she was never mentioned again. The other storylines were not as major but still annoying. I dislike it when I am reading a book and a storyline is dropped.

I didn’t feel a connection to the characters at all. All the characters felt flat. They were not 3 dimensional at all. Not rounded out. Put it this way, when I read a book, I like to imagine the characters as flesh and blood people. I couldn’t even with these characters. They were more paper doll-like in my mind.

The end of Wonderblood confused me. It was written as a cliffhanger but there is no mention of a 2nd book. All the storylines are left up in the air. There is no resolution of anything.

Now, there were some parts of the book I liked. I thought the plotline was original. I liked that the author used NASA, the space shuttles and Cape Canaveral as major plot points. The fact that these people worshipped the shuttles and NASA fascinated me.

What also fascinated me was that this civilization kept heads as charms. Yes, human heads. They were supposed to protect and guide them in that horrible world. The last thing that fascinated me, and I wished more time had been spent explaining it, was that medicine and surgery were forbidden. If you were found practicing, you were put to death.

I would give Wonderblood an Adult rating. There are sexual situations and disturbing scenes of pedophilia. There are some very graphic scenes of violence.

I would not reread this book. I also would not recommend to family and friends. While the plotline was good and had promise, I felt that the cons outweighed the pros.

The cons are: flat characters, dropped storylines, unresolved storylines and an ending that is confusing.

The pros: Interesting storyline

I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read and review Wonderblood.

All opinions stated in this review of Wonderblood are mine.

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**

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