Blood Zero Sky by J Gabriel Gates
Review by Jasper de Joode
Unprofitables are banished to work camps to pay off their credit. Other tie-men and women look on apathetically. Fair is fair. Everyone knows you shouldn’t use more credit than you are worth to the Company. They turn their attention to the next repackaged but highly coveted N-Corp product on the market, creatively advertised on the imager screens that adorn virtually every available flat surface. All the while, their mandatory cross-implants and wrist-worn “ICs” keep them focused on the endless cycle of work and consumption to which they are enslaved.
May Fields – the CEO’s daughter – would like to believe she is above all that. Head of N-Corp’s marketing team, the young woman who has almost everything anyone could want spends her days dreaming up ingenious ways to make workers buy more of what they already have and don’t need. Even before May discovers that the Company is headed for its first loss in thirty years, she is feeling the stirrings of dissatisfaction with the system that has given her everything she’s ever wanted… except the freedom to be herself.
When she is kidnapped by a member of the Protectorate – a secret order dating back to the American Revolution – May is suddenly faced with the frightening truth of what the Company’s greed has done to our most basic human rights. Will she embrace who she is and join the battle to restore America’s democratic freedom, or put her blinders back on and return to her safe and passionless life?
Blood Zero Sky takes off pretty interesting. Telling a scene featuring the main protagonist, May Fields, being shot down. However what caught my attention was the ending of the paragraph ends “But this is not the beginning”. After this you are placed in the world three month prior and follow through the events that eventually led up to this first paragraph. Everything in Blood Zero Sky just blew me away. What I noticed was, that there was not a date mentioned in the book in which this story takes place. This gave me more realistic feeling to everything. The statement “More prediction than fiction” makes Blood Zero Sky more than true.
The world that J. Gates has created is realistic. The world is ruled by 2 major private companies after the governments of each country fell. The two Companies are N-Corp and S&B, but the focus is on N-Corp, which controls the western side of the world. N-Corp is shown as on one side a great company but on the other side a sinister syndicate with more dark stuff going on than meets the eye. How N-Corp rules their Hubs and citizens is detailed out neatly. The society feels like a return to communism, forcing the citizen to choose a certain produce. It also plays a heavy part on the need of the citizens using advertisement almost bordering on propaganda level to make people buy the stuff (it drives on a credit-debit kind of way where employees get a debt that they pay off by working for N-Corp). In turn increasing their debts and causing the people to have to work longer for N-Corp to pay-off their debts. There is also a heavy emphasis on materialistic property and the greed of people, always wanting to have a bigger house, bigger TV, fancier car. A nice vicious circle, but dark to say the least.
Here May Field comes into play. Being the daughter of the CEO of N-Corp, she is in the advertisement and marketing department of N-Corp. I was more than pleased on how May was shown throughout Blood Zero Sky. I really got a chance to see how she struggled through society. Her character took a leap in complexity once she was firstly confronted with the protectorate. When I first encountered her she was a little Miss-know-it-all, she is rich and did not mind showing this off. But there was also a tinge of rebelliousness in her, with her preference for the same sex and going on wearing pants instead of a skirt, as not allowed by The Company. About a quarter in she is first kidnapped by the Protectorate, the people fighting against The Companies and it felt that she was slightly changing and discovering things that might not be correct in the ways of N-Corp. You could just feel her struggle on certain discussions like when she is first given the choice of joining up with the Protectorate or going back to N-Corp. Although she goes back to N-Corp, after this encounter she is not the same May any more and the story really goes a thrilling ride into the past of May. She hears more and more about the darker things of N-Corp, and although she does not believe these things at first, she is in for a big surprise. May is a very strong character which I enjoyed reading about, you can relate to her struggles both when she is torn between N-Corp and the Protectorate. Especially if you have always believed that the views of N-Corp are the correct one.
There were three things that I felt could have transitioned better into the story line. After May joins the Protectorate, she is immediate prepped for battle and trusted by Ethan. I have to admit that May might have been convincing in throwing away any N-Corp affiliation. A more working your way up the ladder/earning respect kind off way would have done better for me. This was also partially reflected by the other rebels of the Protectorate who clearly stated that she could be a spy for N-Corp and that she could not be trusted yet. Also in the story there are several flashbacks of May going to when she was 15, discovering she was lesbian and having a baby and I felt that there were too many flashbacks bordering on the same scenes and they did not felt unique any more and became quite annoying. Lastly she goes from a joyful somewhat innocent marketing girl to a full rebellion and even going as far as killing people, and similar to the acceptance, this turnaround was too sudden.
It could have gone both ways as far as the plot line goes in these kind of books, either the rebellion is crushed or they are victorious. I have read about both already and I had hopes that I would end the way I assumed it, and well it did. But with a very very very nice twist to it. I was more than satisfied with the ending.
Blood Zero Sky is a magnificent addition to the already growing dystopian genre. It has everything that is needed to create an alternate world feeling, people being oppressed and forced taken with a well designed world just brilliant. And with the sketched world it might just happen to us in the their future… you never know.
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