Drawing Blood by Richard Finney

(Relict, #1)
Horror, Suspense

With humanity at the edge of self-annihilation…

Vampires, living in the shadows of humans for thousands of years, joins the war to end all wars. Their intervention is motivated by the fear that without their intervention the extermination of their food supply will trigger their extinction as well.

Matt Haynes and Tyra Redmond briefly met in the Green Zone. He was a world weary mercenary. She was working for the State Department trying to rebuild a country.

Years later, when their paths cross again, a war has ravaged the planet and decimated the human population. Both are now prisoners at a “Blood Donation Center,” known as CCC197, where they must endure a daily dehumanizing existence of being kept alive only to serve as a source of blood for their captors.

Matt and Tyra must overcome their clashing personalities if they are to plan and execute an audacious escape to freedom which will include all the inmates of CCC197.

This excellent book does end on a wicked cliffhanger but the author warns about that and it's part of a series. An unusual twist is taken to the vampire genre as Mark, ex-military, and his friend Jay are shown coming to Mark's ex wife's house to see if she's still alive. They've been on the run for a long time, caught in a world gone upside down as it's now ruled by vampires who round up humans to be kept in concentration camps. They're sadly caught and Mark is thrust into a camp himself, where he mixes with prisoners, plots, and surprises.

There's never a dull moment. Something suspenseful is always going down in a realistic way with tight pacing. I think that there's always something exciting happening while not letting go of the personalization of the characters is what makes this book such a winner. Action is kept up all the time without sacrificing other important story elements. Even if the action taking place is of a lower suspense hum, it's still fascinating to read about and you don't want to set this it down.

It's told in third- person POV but head hopping is kept to a minimum. The writing style is to the point of the story, not sparing extras to bog it down, serving the atmosphere and pacing of the bizarre world well. I appreciate that it's a new twist on an age-old theme (Vampires), and that they are shown here as three dimensional but not romantic characterizations. They have their own personalities, instead of all of them being the same, which is a common bane in many vampire novelizations and films.

Characters are realistically painted, especially in the loner Mark and his associations with fellow prisoners as they try to survive - both mentally and physically - a dangerous world which sees humans as "juice boxes." There's a lot of yo-yoing between characters and their wide range of personalities, and even so with vampires and their ambitions and changes. I liked the addition of placing some humans above others in deranged cooperation and reading about the interesting twists and layers this brings to the story.

It's not overly gory for shock value but there is a grim realism that encases the book, and it was hard to put this one down. Due to the plot being original, the pacing tight and suspenseful, never a dull moment, and a hefty dose of rewarding characters being fleshed out, I completely adored this book. Just beware it's part of a series and ends on a small cliffhanger of sorts. Highly recommended for any horror, suspense, apocalyptic, or vampire fan.

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