Blood (Fearless #9), by Francine Pascal
Obviously this book is not going to be what I thought it was about. I purchased a standalone copy of "Blood" in hopes of being able to read ahead, but never was able to find the books leading up to it. The blurb on the back of "Blood" said something about how Gaia had never killed anyone until now. I interpreted that to mean that Gaia had killed someone at the end of "Heat" and that the aftermath takes place during "Blood." Except, as it turns out, the only death in "Heat" was Mary's death at the hands of Loki. As a result, I wonder who's going to die . . .
For some inadequately explained reason, it seems to make sense to Gaia that Skizz must have hired someone to murder Mary for that $500 that she owed him. Gaia has thus come to the conclusion that she has to kill Skizz to pay him back for Mary's death. The reader knows that murdering Skizz would only compound the injustices done in this situation and would be devastating to Gaia personally. So for me at least, I was on the edge of my seat dreading what would happen when Gaia and Skizz met up. Would Skizz tell Gaia that he had nothing to do with Mary's death? Would Gaia believe him if he did?
Mostly, though, "Blood" is about Gaia mourning Mary. She cuts off everyone who still cares about her while preparing herself to kill Skizz. This development thrills Loki, who thinks that Gaia is finally turning into the person she's meant to be, but it worries Tom. Tom is beginning to have second thoughts about abandoning Gaia. He thought that he was protecting her but now thinks that maybe it was a mistake.
Even though he still sees her every day, Ed misses Gaia. The first time he sees her at school after Mary's death, Gaia basically blows him off and she won't let him close to her. This causes Ed to reach out to Heather, of all people. The repercussions of this may be interesting as the series progresses.
We also return to Sam. Gaia finds the chessboard that Sam gave her for Christmas in the closet, but doesn't see that the gift is for her. She merely assumes that it was for Ella and shifts its position in the closet. Then she bumps into Sam at the library and she ignores him in favor of doing her homework while plotting Skizz's demise.
Tom also has another face-to-face conversation with George. I'm not sure what this means for my theory that Loki and Tom are actually the same person, but that they are unaware of it. I suppose that the Tom personality might have been in charge when he met with George, and if George is a big enough idiot to continue not to see Ella for what she is (which he certainly seems to be), maybe he wouldn't be able to tell Loki and Tom apart.
There is one plot twist that takes away a bit from the storyline, but I can see why Pascal wrote it that way. I wish that Pascal had found another way to make that particular development work out, though.
On the whole, though, I really enjoyed "Blood" and now that I am a quarter of the way through this 36-volume epic, I still intend to keep going forward. If Simon Pulse continues to release these books in three-book compilations, "Liar," "Trust," and "Killer" are due out in early 2015. I may start trying to track down the later books and work my way towards the middle so that I'm not still doing this until 2023.
Edited to Add: Apparently Simon Pulse decided to stop the compilation books. I am writing this in September of 2016 and there has been no sign of a fourth compilation book. I may end up doing this until 2023 after all because it may take me that long to find the rest of the series, unless I decide to bite and buy the ebook versions.