Bloodtide by Melvin Burgess
|Bloodtide by Melvin Burgess|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Retelling of the Norse Volsung saga in a dystopian setting. Forget the current wave of dystopian stories. This knocks most of them into a cocked hat!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: August 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Set in a world only a book could inhabit - half in a post-apocalyptic future, half in the mists of the myths of the past - Bloodtide retells part of the Volsunga saga - Icelandic tales of gods and heroes and villains. Civilisation has long abandoned London to its criminals and its gang wars, going so far as to surround its borders with released halfmen, genetically manipulated creatures with a lust for violence. With the population trapped inside the city walls, Val Volson has risen to a position of power. Only King Conor is left standing in his way. But Val wants peace. He wants unity so that his people can break out of the city and prosper.
So he makes a treaty with Conor, sealed by the wedding of Signy, his oldest daughter, to his last remaining rival. But the gods have different plans. Conor proves to be false. And, as if to herald this, Odin appears at the wedding feast, bringing a knife that will plunge the two families into a cycle of violence and revenge that will last a lifetime and beyond for Signy and her twin brother Siggy...
First published in 1999, Bloodtide is getting a reissue in 2013, along with its companion novel, Bloodsong.
Ok. I'm going to gush. You might feel a bit embarrassed for me.
Here goes. I love, love, love, LOVE this book. Everything about it. I love me a bit of Viking and Bloodtide is Viking with a capital V. It's vast. It's vital. It's vivid. It's violent. It's vicious. It's voracious. It's every V you can think of. A kind of mash up of Oryx and Crake and myth and legend, it's the book that heralded in a new wave of dystopian fiction for kids. And it's the book that kept my older son addicted to reading just as his interest was starting to wane in favour of pop stars and football. He swooped on this reissue - it will be his third copy, with the other two worn out by so many re-reads.
Sorry, I haven't finished gushing yet.
Bloodtide is ruthless, just as the Nordic Volsung saga is ruthless. It takes in every human emotion, every crime it's possible to commit, and every cruel turn that fate - and the gods - can throw at us. It is frighteningly harsh. It's set in a Mad Max world of violence and poverty and gangs and warlords, where genetically-manipulated halfmen form a living barrier between the haves and have-nots. So there is a great deal of violence, much of it stomach-turning. And there is sex that doesn't come from love. Some people might say this renders it unsuitable for younger readers but Bloodtide is also the book that confirmed to me what I'd long thought. You don't need to censor kids. They understand that revenge is damaging. They understand what bad sex is and are saddened by it. Kids get it, by and large. It's the grown-ups who don't.
So, if you're a fan of dystopian fiction, forget half the books you've read. Go and read Bloodtide and its sequel, Bloodsong. The best in this wave of fiction came early.
Other top-notch, beat-the-competition dystopian reads include the Chaos Walking sequence by Patrick Ness and The Declaration by Gemma Malley. If it's more from the Old Norse mythos you're looking for, then you could try Runemarks by Joanne Harris.
You can read more book reviews or buy Bloodtide by Melvin Burgess at Amazon.co.uk
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