Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review: The Blending Time by Michael Kinch

Jaym , Reya, and D’Shay are all about to turn 17 in the year 2054, and because none of them have any of the right connections, they are at the mercy of a government that can send them anywhere for dangerous work service. When they are sent to Africa to be blenders, at first they think they’ve lucked out – at least they aren’t getting sent to the canal zone and almost certain death. But they are about to find out that Africa doesn’t exactly roll out the welcome mat for blenders…


Right off the bat, I liked that I was introduced to three very diverse characters. Jaym is white, working class. Reya is a refugee from Mexico where sandstorms drove out the population. D’Shay is Af-Am (the book’s term, not mine) and has been in and out of foster homes his whole life. We see how their individual circumstances led them to Global Alliance Blender Program whose purpose is to help repopulate Africa after a sun flare left all the people on the continent unable to have children.

I also found it refreshing that the story is set mainly in Africa – a favorite recent travel spot of mine. Once our three protagonists get to their destination, they are left to fend for themselves against mercenaries who want the blending program to fail. The situation Reya finds herself in is especially harrowing, but Jaym and D’Shay have interesting journeys as well. It reminded me in many ways of a student exchange program, but one in which all three simply got really, really BAD host family placements. Speaking of placements, I have to admit that I never really got WHY the government was so big on sending kids away when they turned 17. Is it due to overpopulation maybe? Everyone just seems to accept it, and there aren't any scenes of brutal government enforcement or anything. Hmmm….

In any case, the world in 2054 is sufficiently crappy, with tons of terrible consequences from environmental disasters. Debut Author Kinch touches on a lot of hot topics – from the terrible conditions of refugee camps, to interracial tensions, to the naivety of global bureaucrats when it comes to local problems – which adds depth to what is essentially a survival/adventure story.  However, right when the action is really heating up…BOOM. It’s over. It’s so abrupt, it’s not even a cliffhanger – it’s a sinkhole. After I recovered from my whiplash, I headed over to the author's website to check for sequel information, and apparently, there IS a one in the works (even a possible trilogy).

My rating? 3 Zombie Chickens – Well worth reading. (Though if you really get frustrated by cliffhangers (sinkholes!) then you might want to wait until the next book is out.)



THE BLENDING TIME will be released on October 1, 2010 in paperback original.
 
See index of all dystopian reviews on Presenting Lenore

12 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I think the plot might be a little far out for me.

Stephanie said...

This does sound like an intriguing premise. I may wait until the whole series comes out then give it a go. :)

christina said...

I'm like Stephanie! The book sounds interesting but I'm such an impatient little stinker (uh is the 24th here YET?) that I'll wait until at least a couple of the books are out. :) I love your feature this month btw.

AHS said...

I'm intrigued. I'd rather wait until all of the books are out, but the premise sounds fascinating.

Steph Su said...

This has been on my radar since I first heard of it (can we say "dystopian"??), and it's good to hear some of its pros and cons. Thanks! I'm definitely still intrigued by this one.

Ladytink_534 said...

This definitely sounds interesting. However the cliffhanger, or sinkhole as you put it, is a major mark against the story in my opinion.

Alyce said...

The book sounds so good to me, I just have to wonder how believable it is that an entire continent is barren because of sunspots. It just seems like a random reason.

Lenore said...

Alyce - It was explained that it changed their DNA somehow (I think) which made it impossible for two affected people to have kids together. An affected person could have a kid with an unaffected person, thus the blender program.

Biblibio said...

I also always find it strange that teen dystopian novels insist on having their characters be 16 or 17. Rarely 18, almost never kids (because that would be implausible, I suppose...?), and never young adults - 20, or so. There's this strange assumption that the young adult genre focuses on the ages 15-17 when it can in fact hold a much larger (and thus far more believable...) age range.

I have to admit that this sounds too standard for my taste - standard in that I'm uncertain what could be original in a story that seems to build so much on a recent popular genre. The diversity of the characters from the start is interesting, but I'm not certain the premise can stand on its own and I'm wary of books that build on sequels (especially if they have, as you put it, sinkhole endings...).

Lenore said...

Bibliobio - Hmmm...actually, this one did feel pretty fresh to me, especially with the Africa angle.

Zibilee said...

You know how you were talking about plausible and implausible scenarios for these types of books the other day? Well, the premise of this one sounds pretty plausible to me. I am glad you enjoyed it and will have to try to check it out, though I may wait until the sequel is out first. Thanks, Lenore!

Bourgette said...

I liked The Blending Time, because it was so different than other dystopian books. I did feel the ending was a bit of a let down, so now I know I have to read the sequel. I also reviewed this book on my website.