Bloodtide (Puffin Teenage Books)

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9780141306896: Bloodtide (Puffin Teenage Books)

Set in the future as two rival gangs, the Volsons and the Connors, struggle to control London. The city is almost cut off from the rest of the country and surrounded by the Halfman Lands - a desolate area populated by creatures, Halfmen, the resultsof genetic experiments to create living killing machines. Val Volson dreams of uniting the two factions by giving his 14-year-old daughter, Signy, as a bride to the rival ganglord, Connor. A shocking betrayal almost wipes out the Volsons - only Signy and her twin brother, Siggy, survive. The fate of both gangs, and of London, is in their hands, but both must pay a terrible price for power.

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Review:

The publishers of Bloodtide use the words compelling, gripping and dramatic to describe Melvin Burgess's follow-up novel to the controversial and prize-winning Junk. To this description you must add visionary, violent, brutal and bloody to fully appreciate the depth and complexity of this new offering for only the most mature young readers.

Set in a frighteningly realistic ravaged London in the near future, Burgess uses the Icelandic Volsunga saga as inspiration for his plot. Two warring families of ganglords appear united by the marriage of Signy Volson to Conor--head of the opposing family. However, Conor's treachery results not in the long-expected truce but the decimation of the Volson family. Only Signy and her hideously disfigured brother Siggy survive the culling, kept apart by circumstance but united in their hate for Conor. They are intent on revenge--no matter how long it takes--or at what cost.

Burgess has delivered a book of two halves.

The first is a taut, psychological challenge between brother and sister. As Conor consolidates his hold over the capital, Siggy slowly regains his energy, his identity and will to live. Signy, crippled and imprisoned, with only a shape-changing cat for company, spends her teenage youth playing mindgames with the new King of London, preparing for the moment when she might strike a blow for the oppressed population and the memory of her family. It's gripping, gutsy, bloody and purposeful. The shifting viewpoints offer real insight into these two battered minds and all those they infect with their plight.

The second half of the novel is long and ambitious. The vast timescale means that some events are skipped over very quickly and the payoff takes a long time to arrive.

Bloodtide is a long book, nearly 400 pages, and it is doubtful whether or not it is a children's book at all--the characters, settings, colourful language and plots are adult in almost every way. But the book is undeniably addictive, and difficult to give up once it pulls you in. It's a worthy addition to Burgess' short catalogue of fine novels. (Age 12 and over) --John McLay

Review:

"A dystopian vision that will rank with the twentieth-century classics!" --"The Sunday Telegraph" "Straddling a dystopian future and a myth-ridden past, "Bloodtide "is a savage story of betrayal, passion, hatred, and the corrupting nature of power. "Bloodtide "shies from nothing, making it both cruel and magnificent." --"The Guardian" "A magnificent drama." --"The Sunday Observer" "Powerfully conceived, "Bloodtide "is a novel of bristling intrigue. In sharp, confident prose Burgess imagines a startling world of humans and shapeshifters, predators and prisoners, villains and heroes. It's a fierce adventure that forces your attention and refuses to let go." --Adele Griffin, author of "Sons of Liberty," a National Book Award finalist

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