Wonderblood | Julia Whicker

Cover of Wonderblood by Julia Whicker.
Wonderblood cover.

Faith, reason, morality, progress all come into conflict under the shadow of the launch tower at Cape Canaveral! Kings, magicians, doctors, executioners, all bound to their own arcane rituals. A girl appears just like in a prophecy. And then a new bright light appears in the sky.

I really did not care for this book. Whicker has imagined a world where mad cow disease has led to a societal collapse, and after thousands of years, people in the United States have devolved into followers of mystic religions that believe in blood sacrifice to bring about the return of the space shuttles, which will save the world.

You have to invest a lot in this setting to get anything out of the book–which is another way of saying that the plot, character, and prose style didn’t do much for me–and so much of the setting didn’t make any sense. Whicker clearly loved this idea of a medieval/feudal world that has adopted NASA as its religious symbols, but never quite explains how that could have come about. Yes, there is prion disease and societal breakdown, but how are there artifacts from the 20th century but no city ruins? Given what we know about how tribalism forms in times of scarcity, is it really plausible that no characters notice each others skin colors? For that matter, in Florida of all places, why does everybody speak English?

For that matter, Whicker doesn’t have very much respect for medieval knowledge either. In an interview with The Qwillery, Whicker mentions being inspired by figures like Johannes Kepler and Tycho Brahe and yet none of that seems to have made it onto the page, except in cutesy character names.

I’d suggest skipping this book and watch Waterworld instead.

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