Review: The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

49214976._sy475_This book has been on my radar for a while, and so I couldn’t resist it because of this gorgeous cover (among other things). I had grabbed the audiobook almost as soon as it was released, but hadn’t gotten the chance at it (like it goes, of course). Well today is the day!

War brought the Harvest. Willa Mae Wallace is a reaper.

To support herself and her grandson Isaiah, Willa works for the blood contractor Patriot. Instituted to support the war effort, the mandatory draw (The Harvest) has led to a society segregated by blood type. Hoping to put an end to it all, Willa draws on her decades-old phlebotomy training to resurrect an obsolete collection technique, but instead uncovers an awful truth.

Patriot will do anything to protect its secret. On the run and with nowhere else to turn, Willa seeks an alliance with Lock, a notorious blood-hacker who cheats the Harvest to support the children orphaned by it. But they soon find themselves in the grasp of a new type of evil.

This is the story of the future, and a future that has seen a devastating event (a result of nuclear bomb, I think?) that has left humanity with a host of deadly diseases, and a world where not much grows anymore. Blood transfusions are the main method of treating these diseases and so it is mandatory for each person to donate blood as much as they can. As such, society is more or less segregated by blood type, and some blood types live a life of luxury, while others are nearly starving.

Willa Mae Wallace is a reaper – she works for the blood collection company Patriot, drawing blood from the masses. Willa remembers the time before the world was ruined, when she was a trained phlebotomist. She remembers older collection techniques, and ways of making the blood usable to more people of varying blood types. When she brings this information to Patriot’s attention though, she learns… a secret that she absolutely should not know.

So, she teams up with the notorious blood-hacker known as The Locksmith, and then the bloody shenanigans really go down.

I liked this story quite a lot. It’s not too often that the protagonists of your dystopian fantasy book are well into their 60s, but these ones are. I gotta say that I loved rooting for the badass grandma to win the day over the bad guys. Willa was a great character to cheer for, but my favorite character was definitely Lock, who has such an interesting personality.

The… I guess main twist (the big, scary secret, lol) was spoiled for me early so it didn’t have the impact I think that it would have, unfortunately. But all the same, I thought it was an interesting and well thought out story in a very unique kind of dystopia. It was well plotted and immersive, and I found myself turning it on and before I knew it, the work day was nearly done! Those are always the best audiobooks.

The narrator, Veronique Olin, did a great job, especially after Lock enters the picture. She gave Lock a really great sort of… presence. Really brought out the crazy personality Lock brings to the party. That was a high point of the narration. I can’t say I loved her portrayal of Kathy, a character we meet later on, but we see Kathy far less overall, so my not digging her manner of speech wasn’t a dealbreaker or anything. All told, I enjoyed the 10 or so hours that I spent with this one! I’d recommend it to anyone who is into near-future dystopian fantasy with a unique twist! 4/5 stars!


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