The Phlebotomist by Chris Panatier

Posted On 28 September 2020

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PhlebMy Five Word TL:DR Review : Absolutely Bloody Brilliant, pun intended.

The Phlebotomist is a book that really took me by storm.  To be fair I read a glowing review for this over on Books Bones and Buffy but even so, and even though I requested a review copy, I felt a little hesitant about picking this up.  I think it’s all to do with my reading mood, the way it fluctuates without warning and the current pandemic situation which I cannot deny has greatly affected my emotions and ability to settle down.  Then along comes the Phlebotomist to laugh in the face of all of that and just provide a really damned good bit of respite from the everyday mundane.

Seriously, I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one (yes, I read a review but it was very secretive and gave little away – apart from the fact that this is good).  And, to be honest, I’m going to give very little away too, in fact I’m not really going to go overboard on the plot but will look at world and characters instead.

The Phlebotomist is set in a fairly near future (2060s??).  Our worst fears have been recognised and war and nuclear blasts have changed the way we live.  There are grey zones that still suffer from the fallout and people who desperately need blood to help them recover.  Patriot is an organisation that harvests blood – your country needs you!  And, depending on your blood type, your life can be one of relative luxury or incredibly tough with barely enough food to survive.  Areas are divided by blood types with the most affluent areas being inhabited by those with the most sought after blood types.

Enter the scene Willa Wallace.  I love this woman  Willia is the Phlebotomist.  She’s old enough to remember the world pre nuclear blast and she still likes ‘old school’ methods when it comes to a lot of things.  She is responsible for her grandson, her own daughter having passed away, and she works for Patriot as a Reaper – sounds grim eh? (Ha, another pun).  Willa collects blood, but she doesn’t just go through the motions, she’s smart, she likes to read (high five Willa) and she has common sense.  Unwittingly, Willy stumbles into ‘something’ and that’s when things start to go pear shaped.  I won’t elaborate further other than to say this went in a direction I never saw coming and I loved it.

The other characters. Well, we have an ex marine called Lock (short for the Locksmith) who is basically a hacker.  Lock uses old technology to stay under the radar, she has a number of hideouts and her main priority is the group of ragtag children that she’s taken under her wing and cares for.  Everard is a bit of a tough character, he’s not above committing crimes, he might have a tweak of conscience about it but he’s prepared to make hard choices when it comes to keeping the children safe.  The other character is Kathy, I can’t say too much about her because of spoilers but she’s great and I have to say these three females just about made my day.

Long story short I really enjoyed this.  I couldn’t wait to pick it up, it was entertaining, fast paced, high octane, bloody, and violent, in places and emotional.  What a ride.

The writing is really good.  Panatier strikes a perfect blend between those tense moments where you’re holding your breath and then the relief that swiftly follows.  He provides clear information about the world and the way of life.  He provides his cast with very ‘real’ motivations and he manages to provoke heartfelt emotion.  On top of this there is much drama and over the top heist style scenes that give you a real rush – not to mention woohoo moments.

Okay, I enjoyed this.  Maybe you can tell.  It just give me a real boost.

In terms of criticisms.  The only thing I can think of is that some of the tech info felt a little bit less like a conversation and more like a convenient way to quickly deliver all the knowledge in one swift chunk.  It’s not something that bothered me though.

High speed chases through the air, corporate conniving, conspiracy theories, do we really know how the other half lives?  It’s all here. I would read more of this world without hesitation in fact I strongly hope that more is forthcoming and I can only hope this gets optioned for adaptation, it would be great on the big screen.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

Rating : 5 stars