Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Reader's Review: "The Way" by Mary E. Twomey

"In a world not divided by race, but by blood type, Blue Anders finds herself on the wrong end of fortune’s mercy. Born with a lesser blood type, Blue is raised in The Way, a work camp for A-bloods.
The Vemreaux (B-bloods) are the ruling class. Theirs is the only type that responds to the Fountain of Youth, granting them an additional one hundred twenty years, heightened senses and nearly unbreakable bones in exchange for an iron deficiency that makes them crave O-type human blood.
The Vemreaux are at the top of the food chain until a mysterious predator begins stealthily claiming them and sending back their filleted bodies. Thus begins the search for the Light – a woman foretold to be able to free the Vemreaux from this tyranny. Blue sets off with her brother to fight for those that oppressed her, charging ferociously into the battle that could claim her life."
(Synopsis taken from smashwords.com)

My Review:

At first glance, the premise sounds bizarre. We've heard of division by personality type, by production, by the willingness to be controlled by the government—
But... Blood type? Seems kind of strange; what makes one type of blood better than another? Answer: the Fountain of Youth. Discovered decades earlier, this Fountain does everything as promised: slows aging, increases bone density, enhances the perception of smell, since taste for food is not really a requirement for survival. But there's a catch: it only works on people with type-B blood. Those with type-A become the lower class, the Wayward ones, existing only to serve the "superior" type-B Vemreaux.
From there, Mary Twomey delves deep into a driving mystery, an oblivious people, and their reluctant savior. Colorful characters splash vividly over the mind, from the bubbly Elle to the firm, gruff Baird; his intriguing sister Blue and the painfully shy Grettel.

Mary Twomey displays a no-holds-barred, bare-fisted approach to establishing characters, plot, setting, and conflict from the very first scene: Baird and Blue discussing her future as they shovel cow muck. Baird seems a very cold and distant brother, alternately berating and using his sister, honing her unique abilities as a deadly killer with all the emotional investment of a drill sergeant, while Blue only ever wants to be loved and sought like the woman everyone else acknowledges her to be. But it's important to Baird for Blue to be ready to fulfill her destiny, even if he's so controlling that he does everything he can to prevent anyone else from finding out Blue's "secret" till he can be the one to initiate the action.

Things get complicated when Blue inadvertently catches the eye of the visiting European dignitary and his entourage. Blue encounters feelings she cannot suppress, and Baird must realize that his secret cannot stay hidden forever. But can Prince Liam and Sam and the other Vemreaux be trusted? Is Blue ready to face the predator that has been killing off the type-O-blooded outcasts and their Vemreaux "masters"? Why would she want to free them from tyranny--when it feels like the Vemreaux are themselves the tyrants?

The world she creates is unmistakably our own (divided into the three major political powers: American, European, and Chinese), and yet so fascinatingly foreign. The issues raised, of racism and class-ism, of poverty and purpose—Mary Twomey confronts them deftly and I was reminded how easily even the most progressive First-World country can still succumb to the same old prejudices, even in a completely original context.

A thrilling beginning to an adventure I'm dying to finish!


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