Top critical review
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on 12 June 2003
With an apocalyptic vision at its heart, Blood Music is escapist reading with high drama, though its excitement has been somewhat muted by time and the magnitude of the real events which have transpired since its publication in 1985. Here a genetic experiment goes awry, and the whole world is endangered. .
Though only seventeen years have passed since its publication, the book feels old--eerily so. Gene therapy is now a reality. The Soviet Union, which here rattles its nuclear sabers in an effort to dominate the world, seems like a very old enemy. Strangely, a number of particularly vivid scenes here take place in a ravaged World Trade Center, images so similar to the reality of 9/11 that I found them painful to stumble upon in a piece of light fiction. Suzy McKenzie, a lonely survivor in New York, sets up home in the World Trade Center lobby, and Bear’s descriptions of her explorations through the desolate upper floors and of the collapse of one of the towers conjured up nightmarish (real) images.
Bear’s narrative is fast-paced and suspenseful. With an acute sensibility and eye for detail, Bear creates stark images. His characterizations of Vergil and Suzy are often touching, however, and the dialogue between Vergil and his mother will bring smiles to the faces of many parents. Structurally, the novel is very loose, with characters who come and go, and ultimately the novel feels almost as chaotic as Bear’s vision of devastation. Bear’s immense potential, obvious here, finds its true fulfillment in his later, more carefully controlled, novels. Mary Whipple