Simon Clark’s King Blood is a mixed bag of enjoyment and eye rolling disbelief. I enjoyed it as much as I sighed at it’s several short comings. It was a book that I’m glad I read, but I probably will never pick back up again. As many of the other reviewers have said for this book, the main reason I decided to read King Blood was because of Simon Clark’s other post apocalyptic masterpiece Blood Crazy. Both books tell the story of a young adult’s journey toward becoming a leader in a world where your average everyday citizen has turned into a blood thirsty psychopath. Both books have very similar themes, strange explanations for the cause of the apocalypse, very well crafted villains and massive amounts of horrifying violence. It is very hard not to compare the two books.
The strength of both of these books for me is the weird and surreal encounters that sometimes add up to just a small occurrence. Yet these small details in the way Clark describes this new nightmarish world adds so much to the imagine and landscape the character is exploring. One example is in Blood Crazy the main protagonist passes by a young cashier who has just witnessed a blood bath in the fast food restaurant she works in. This character is never spoken of again and the protagonist is in too much in shock to offer any assistance to her. I found myself wondering what happened to her and hoping the girl would find safety on her own. These types of scenarios are sprinkled very cleverly throughout both apocalyptic tales.
Seriously, Blood Crazy is a much better book.
It’s these types of moments that are offered up a lot in Simon Clark’s post apocalyptic books. Where I would not hesitate to recommend Blood Crazy to a fan of Post Apocalyptic fiction, I would definitely hesitate before suggesting King Blood. This review does contain spoilers so please beware! (Warning, it’s a bit of a metaphysical rant. )
The rape scenes where handled very very poorly. I just need to get that off of my chest. While I could understand Caroline’s need for protection a lot better. It is possible Simon Clark just wanted us to come to our own conclusion ourselves. However there is no way someone who was just raped would want to engage in sexual intercourse with another man so soon after such a horrible incident, unless it was her way of working through her trauma. This really should of been touched upon better.
I just didn’t care for this character that much, though I did feel bad for her when she was dragged off to be raped by the evil towns people. Most of the book is seen through the eyes of the main protagonist, so we are introduced to his point of view on the situation. It’s not to say Rick didn’t feel bad for what happened to Caroline. I still think that the author could of had Rick help Caroline through her feelings better without taking away from the overall story.
What bothered me the most was that Clark only hinted at Caroline’s insecurities. She wanted to hide her relationship from the other members of the group. She was desperate for Rick’s acceptance, and she was ashamed of the age gap between Rick and herself. In my eyes it seems like she mainly wanted a relationship with the group leader’s brother so she could get protection from the horrible happenings that was going on with society and the planet. The only way she could get that protection was by offering sex to Rick, yet this was irresponsible of the author to not explain this more, because most of this comes off as “Rape is no big deal, look Caroline is tough enough to easily forget about it.”
One of the common themes in this book, is that women can shrug off rape and torture like it’s no big deal. I’m not saying that women can’t be strong, but in a society where rape is casually thrown around as a simple “insult” to the female gender it would be nice if rape was taken a little more seriously in media. I’m ok with it being presented in a serious horror story, but only if the rape itself is taken seriously and not like a random insult anyone can just shrug off. I understand that murder, torture, cannibalism and rape are common themes in any apocalyptic setting. Same with aliens, space ships, and lasers are almost a given to many science fiction setting. But in today’s day in age I think authors should be more responsible with heavy themes like rape, abortion, and sex.
Also Rick dealing with the death of his unborn baby was neglected from the book and that annoyed me a bit. (It was handled very briefly and mainly skipped over.)
This book does suffer from a very large cast and it causes a lot of supporting cast to be neglected. Some interesting characters are introduced like Victoria who was mysterious and very bad ass. However she is hidden off camera too much, making her death lacking a lot of meaning. I feel like it would of had a bigger impact if Rick had just spent more time with her, even if that time was spent arguing or in conflict. In Blood Crazy the antagonists and supporting cast were given a lot more spot light, so regardless of their fate you actually cared if they lived or died. Simon Clark is capable of a lot better and that is such a shame.
Near the end it is revealed that Earth was letting out electromagnetic waves that were making mankind hallucinate visions of monsters. This twist didn’t bother me as much as it bothered everyone else. I’ve played video games like Silent Hill where similar explanations were given for the protagonist battling against hordes of creatures. However where Silent Hill 2 pulled it off perfectly, King Blood is kind of all over the place with it’s explanation.
There was a really big hint in the beginning that shows that these victims of the electromagnetic pulse could mistakenly hallucinate that just about anybody is a giant grey abomination thirsty for blood. This would result in a lot of accidental deaths of friends and loved ones, because their is very little control over when the hallucination happen. However what isn’t explained very well is why everyone is hallucinating the same “grey” creature.
Simon Clark tries to say it’s because we are all born with primordial data within our DNA that causes all of mankind to hallucinate the same thing. So Bigfoot, UFO sitings, The Loch Ness Monster, and various other paranormal stories are all because we share the same DNA data we’re born with. The problem is while we all share the same desires for love, greed, and fear for self preservation, we all adapt to it differently because all of us are very different people. I can’t agree that the whole of homo sapiens would hallucinate the same thing if given a situation that is described in this book.
I haven’t read many reviews because I was afraid of their opinion becoming my opinion. But I imagine a lot of people weren’t pleased with this twist. Mainly because there are many times where the characters are physically harmed by the Grey Men. The explanation for the electromagnetic pulse comes off hard to swallow no matter how much you analyze it. Maybe if the characters were hallucinating dead loved ones or if a “after life” explanation could be a alternate possibility for the hallucinations I would be more lenient with the electromagnetic explanation.
This is probably the main thing keeping this book from being four or five stars honestly. Hell it would of been better if the explanation for the Greys was kept mysterious, with very little explained at all. Too bad because the cannibals and other villains of this book were terrifying and written very well.
I happily give this book 3.5 stars. I despite the problems I have with this novel, I did find myself enjoying it most of the time. The only other aspects that keep it from reaching a full four star rating is the over abundance of sex scenes and repetitive methods at describing scenes within the book.
The link to the group read I was a part of for this book is located here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/…
I would like to thank all of the members who read this book with me. I honestly don’t think I ever read through a four hundred page book so fast before. Though I wish that some parts of the book were changed a bit, I still had a lot of fun reading this book with a lot of friends. I don’t recommend this book to everybody. I do recommend this book to those who have a really strong love for Post Apocalyptic tales and don’t mind a large amount of descriptive sex scenes to be presented in their post apocalyptic book.
A series that I encourage other post apocalyptic fans to read instead is the five volume series called Autumn. While not a amazing as Blood Crazy, I still enjoyed Autumn a lot and it definitely has everything I love about Post Apocalyptic fiction.