Blightborn: A Fascinating Continuation of the Heartland Trilogy
Blightborn by Chuck Wendig
So I read book recently that took me by surprise. It was imaginative, unique, and was just a great roller coaster ride. It was a dystopian scifi tale called Under the Empyrean Sky. And it was so great, I had to return to it. So here is my review of the second book in the Heartland Trilogy, Blightborn by Chuck Wendig.
So what is it about? The book picks right where the first book left off. In the first book the Heartland consisted of wild non edible corn that farmers gather for the floating city up above them. The people on the ground are poor, starving, and abused by the city up above. By the end of the first book, Cael and his friends Lane and Rigo are fugitives. They intend to rescue Cael’s sister Merelda and girlfriend Gwennie from the floating city above him.
Least to say, things do not go as planned. Early on in the novel, Cael finds he is infected with a disease known as the Blight. It’s a strange plant that grows inside the body, taking over the person and leads them to insanity. This infection quickly becomes a big problem. Especially as he must try to hide it as the Heartland raiders, the Sleeping Dogs, decides to recruit the boys against their will. They are forced into situation begins to pull themselves further and further away from their goals. Also the Sleeping Dogs mission is darker than what they could imagine toward the end. Also a posse is sent out after the boys to hint them down. It includes Cael’s bully Boyland, Cael’s arranged fiancé, Rigo’s abusive father and an psychotic hobo who wants Cael dead because his father betrayed him.
Meanwhile, the book also follows Meralda (Cael’s sister) and Gwennie (Cael’s girlfriend) on the floating city. In the book one, Merelda ran away to the flotilla and it was never clear how. But in this book, its revealed that she had volunteered herself to be practically owned by an abusive powerful man up there. She is called a mistress, but is treated as a prostitute. Gwennie on the other hand won the lottery. Every year a Heartland family is selected to live the high life in the floatilla. But it is revealed they are actually inducted into slavery. Gwennie takes the first chance she can get and joins the Sleeping Dogs underground society of the island. And this story arc tied directly into Cael’s
The good? This is a great told tale. It adds a lot of heft to everything. The blight infecting Cael adds tension and suspense as his illness gets worse. Lane always dreamed of joining the raiders and his admiration of them causes strain on their friendship. Then there's Gwennie's fight to save her family when the Sleeping Dogs couldn’t and so on. Point is, nearly everyone has an amazing well told story arc. It’s just goes into amazing directions that I never expected and it’s just so darn original. I really loved it. The imagination through the roof. Also one thing I appreciate more than anything, is that these characters are extremely flawed. They are just teenagers who don’t what they’re doing. They are in a bad situation, and know they must do something. They’ll make a choice and screw things up further and try their best to fix everything with a better choice. That’s the kind of characters these leads are. They make mistakes often and then have to work harder to do the right thing and it’s intriguing. One thought I had with the first book, is how a hot head, jump before thinking, lead could be the hero of this series? And somehow its works incredibly well. To see characters, who screw things up often, try to save the day by trying to bull through the challenges is quite a different kind of adventure that most. It’s a very unique tone. Also these characters are extremely likable.
The bad? The book is very good but it does have a couple flaws. One being Rigo. He don’t have much of an arc. He has an “Oh my God” moment toward the beginning but after the first third, he’s barely in the book. He becomes more of a background character, which is a shame. I wish Rigo had more story. Also there’s one thing that happens a lot. There’s a scene where the bad guy is about to kill the good guy, and a friend come up behind the bad guy with a blunt object and knocks him out. This happened four times in this book and because it’s a cliché it makes parts of the story predictable. Also this is classified as a YA novel. And that’s a mistake because it does not belong in that genre. Its categorized as one, but this is dark with murder, sex slavery, very graphic deaths and gore with likes of what is found in horror novels. So think twice before getting this for your young child.
Overall, this is a great book. One of the best scifi/fantasy book out there. It’s so original, unique, and fun. This one really hooked me. It hooked me so much, that I was wondering if Cael will be okay while I was at work. That does not happen often. So yes. This a must read. Go go out and get this book
4 smoothie out of four.
Overall Rating: A Fascinating Continuation of the Heartland Trilogy