Heather Graham and Jon land’s latest is better than Stranger Things
It’s been five years since bestselling authors Heather Graham and Jon Land released their seismic shift of a science fiction stunner, THE RISING.
Reviewed by: Vishnu Chaudhari
Now, at long last, they’re back with BLOOD MOON (Tor Books, November ’22), not so much a sequel as a continuation, picking up exactly where its prequel left off. And if THE RISING was a home run, then BLOOD MOON is a grand slam, a seminal triumph in storytelling.
(Heather Graham, Picture by Marti Corn)
The book reads like one long, unbroken action scene, akin to James Cameron’s fabulous pair of “Terminator” movies. That’s especially fitting since BLOOD MOON rekindles not only classic sci-fi writers like Robert Heinlein, but also more modern masters like Phillip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison. Heinlein makes for an especially appropriate comparison, given that series hero Alex Chin is truly a stranger in a strange land. The adopted Caucasian son of Chinese immigrants, the all-American football player and Homecoming King was actually smuggled to Earth from a parallel world in another dimension. The ultimate illegal alien, in other words.
We learned in THE RISING that Alex is in possession of the only means that can save mankind from annihilation at the hands of the alien race he’s actually a part of. That means is a futuristic organic computer chip inside his skull that in BLOOD MOON turns out to be one of the four “keys” scattered across the globe that are needed to save civilization. The catch is that the chip is slowly killing Alex and the clock is ticking on his life as the well as our world’s survival.
That’s a clear homage to one of the greatest episodes from the original “The Outer Limits” TV show called “Demon with a Glass Hand” that was written by Ellison who is also generally credited with aso penning the episode that spawned “The Terminator” series. As those films and “Stranger Things” have taught us, no great sci-fi story is complete without a great monster. And the one that ravages the scenery in BLOOD MOON is one for the ages, a shape-shifting mass of energy that will remind genre purists of the monster from the id in “Forbidden Planet.”
Given that the action in BLOOD MOON is driven as well by fellow high school senior Samantha Dixon, Alex’s former tutor and burgeoning love interest, comparisons with “Stranger Things,” the genre placeholder, are as appropriate as they are inevitable. The difference is that while the show that made Netflix keeps repeating itself season after season, BLOOD MOON mines entirely new territory in both form and function. We follow Alex, Sam and their few adult allies as they take on an especially heinous villain who not only created the legend of the golem in ages past, but also gives special effects master Ray Harryhausen a run for his money with deadly skeletons that arise from their not-so-eternal slumber. And the book’s epic climax set in the Lost City of Mirador is truly one for the ages.
BLOOD MOON isn’t just a throwback to the days of science fiction splashdowns galore by the likes of Ray Bradbury and H. G. Wells, it’s also a wildly manic and supremely effective mashup of adventure and romance. Make no mistake about it, that blossoming romance between our two brave young heroes, spectacular action set pieces galore, and a world hanging in the balance make this better and more fun than “Stranger Things.”
You can order your copy from the Amazon link here.
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