LENGTH: 100-120k words (332 pages)
GENRES: science-fiction, fantasy, horror
When a prehistoric fungus that feeds on information is released back into the global waterways, the existence of humanity is threatened, and then changed forever.
Structured as a double-narrative that weaves itself together in the final chapters, Bloom: Or, the unwritten memoir of Tennyson Middlebrook is part sci-fi, part fantasy, and part apocalypse with a little bit of love story thrown in for good measure. Martin Kee’s novel alternates between the first person narrative of Tennyson Middlebrook, who recounts life before and during the sprout of bloom, and Lil’it, a creature who is a product of the post-bloom, new-middle-ages era.
Tennyson is introduced alongside his best friend Allison when they come across an old man killed by bloom, though no one knows what it is at the time. Ten years later, the earth is ravaged by the fungus and Tennyson must use the knowledge of his homeless scientist friend, Doc, to journey away from his refugee camp in search for Allison, who is buried within the heart of the bloom-infested city.
While this narrative is told, we are given another story. Lil’it is feh, a product of the post-bloom age. Something between a fairy and demon, Lil’it has the ability to curse those whose blood she has tasted. After being raped by a prince with a creature fetish, Lil’it barely escapes with her life and is taken in by a merchant's family. When a curse goes wrong, Lil’it sets out on a quest to find the monks who control the outflow of information to society so she can use the “Godstem” and save a young boy’s life.
Little by little, it becomes clear that the two narratives are linked. Some of the story’s details can get a bit repetitive, the romantic nature of the relationship between Tennyson and another refugee adds slight character development but not a lot of key substance to the novel, and some scenes with Doc felt forced in order to relay information. Overall, Kee does a fantastic job of drawing the reader in, weaving plot lines, and keeping the story moving forward at a wonderfully exciting pace.
This novel does not shy away from more adult themes—rape, drugs, sex, some gore. It is an entertaining, thought-provoking read for adults and mature young adults who enjoy adventure, dystopian, sci-fi, and/or fantasy novels. Kee does a nice job of blending the genres together while keeping the story (mostly) believable and he uses the dual-narrative form to his advantage, ending each chapter with enough of a cliffhanger to make the reader eager to continue the story.
4 out of 5 stars
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Genevieve Shifke Ali is an Assistant Editor with an independent publishing house. She writes occasionally on her blog genevieveshifkeali.wordpress.com and can be found on Twitter @GShifkeAli.