Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: Blood Ties by Sophie McKenzie

When Theo discovers the father he thought died when he was a baby is still alive, he's determined to find him. The clues lead him to the lonely Rachel, who has problems of her own, including parents who compare her unfavourably to her long-dead sister.

But when Rachel and Theo are attacked by men from RAGE - the Righteous Army against Genetic Engineering - at Rachel's school disco, they are rescued by strangers and taken to meet a mysterious figure. There, they both make some startling discoveries about their identities, which will affect their past, present, and future in dramatic and life-altering ways...

Contains Spoilers!
Unnecessary drama is the bane of my existence.

Okay, not really, but it’s pretty high up the list, right there with forced romances and nonsensical motivations, though one can make the point about this being all unnecessary drama. How does this tie in with today’s pick? Simply put, it ruined a perfectly good premise.

The pitch for “Blood Ties” is very ambiguous. Honestly, when I first saw it, the sci-fi aspect went completely in over my head. I knew there was a mystery, but not until the big reveal, which is either a testament to McKenzie’s mastery as a writer or my own scatter-mindedness. Pick the one which suits you best.

I’ll admit, I had a hard time liking the two main characters, Rachel and Theo. The latter, I never really liked, mostly because of his tendency to wangst over ridiculous shit. Rachel, on the other hand, grew a lot on me - I did facepalm a lot, especially when she decided she’s in love with Theo, even when she knew he was using her, but then she grew into a much more kick-ass character, one that was willing to take risks and be in charge. I liked that.

What I didn’t like was how overwrought this whole thing is.

Here’s a scenario for you. You discover you are a clone. What do you do? Would you:

A/ Sit down in expectation of the inevitable identity crisis
B/ Inform yourself about the genetic illnesses and mutations that could result
C/ Freak out that you’re a Nazi, because your parents were Nazis

If you answered C, congratulations, you and Theo will get along just dandy.

Logicfail aside, the above example is just one of the few things that made Theo completely insufferable to me. So the guy discovers he’s a clone. I understand that he’s too immature to realize everything that comes with that, but out of all the soul-searching to be done, is ideology the best thing you could think of? Seriously?

Another thing I didn’t particularly like was his relationship with Rachel. As much as I rolled my eyes at her for throwing the “L” word around when the book wasn’t even through its halfway mark, I can’t really blame Rachel - she’s a teenage girl, a very lonely teenage girl, who has been bullied in school and at home and who has some understandable self-esteem issues. Why wouldn’t she latch onto the first guy who pays attention to her?

Theo, on the other hand, didn’t give two shits for her - not at first, and not later, though the text would have us think otherwise. He didn’t care for Rachel, except in terms of how she could get him what he wanted. He only started to care for her after she brought the freaking cavalry to his rescue, and after he suspected she might be crushing on someone else (in spite of that someone else being in a committed relationship, much older, and his friend. Because tension needs to happen.) At which point he was all: “Hey, Rachel’s hot. And she used to kind of be into me. Maybe I should make sure she still is.”

Yeah, no. Go to hell, Theo. And your fucking attitude too.

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