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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Blood Mercury by Malachi King

Blood Mercury by Malachi King
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (11 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

The whole world has been terrorized and we wallow in terrible fear of getting sick. We placed our faith in medicine and now we pray for redemption. That’s why our police kidnap the sick and send them to the furnaces.

After we conquered a return of the Black Death, our scientists celebrated the triumph of modern medicine and the awesome power of antibiotics. But our bodies became weaker and the bugs became stronger and soon they were immune to anything our doctors could throw at them. It wasn’t long until just the right conditions, high mercury levels in our food to be precise, came along and gave the super germs the breeding grounds for the elimination of the human race. That’s what’s happening to the United States; that’s what happening to my family.

First, Dad went missing, presumably dead overseas, then Mom caught the common cold and the Sanitary Police came and took her. Now I’m all alone. And I’m tired of wasting away, day-by-day, waiting for my turn to fall ill and be taken to the incinerators. I’ve decided I’m going to rescue her, even if it means the death of all of us. She deserves it. I deserve it. And the whole world deserves another chance to live.

How far would you go to save a loved one? At what point does a mission become a lost cause?

Some dystopian stories are about watching the characters disintegrate under pressure. This one’s about love. Caleb’s attachment to his mother is endearing without ever crossing the line into something too mushy for the average teenager. The interactions between these two characters are heartfelt and provide a real sense of urgency for Caleb’s mission later on in the plot.

The action was well-paced. Just enough details were given about what was happening in the rest of the world to keep this reader interested but I never felt bogged down by unnecessary subplots. The information that was provided could easily be expanded into a sequel or full-length novel in the future, though, and I’d be excited to read it if Mr. King ever decides to return to this universe.

My only criticism involves the explanation for how everyone’s health was so quickly weakened. Although an overdose of mercury can affect one’s immune system I didn’t quite understand how this poison spread through the food supply so thoroughly and from where the super bacteria originated. I found myself mulling over alternative theories rather than continuing on to see what happens next. I would have preferred to either have no explanation or for more time to be spent detailing how such a thing could occur.

Blood Mercury is a chilling glimpse into a future populated by fear and death. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who has ever wondered how he or she would really react to a highly communicable and fatal disease that was killing everyone around him or her.

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